In a revised version of an interview published Thursday in a Chinese newspaper, Apple Inc marketing chief Phil Schiller said the company would focus on making "the best products" for customers and "never blindly pursue market share".
On Thursday, the Shanghai Evening News had originally cited Schiller as saying that Apple would not develop a cheaper smartphone for the sake of expanding its market share.
That appeared to undermine other recent media reports indicating that Apple was working on a low-end smartphone, which would represent a significant shift in strategy for a company that has always focused on premium products.
But in a new version of the story published after the original, the Shanghai Evening News removed all references to cheaper smartphones, except for a mention of rumours of a "cheaper, low-end product".
It also amended its original headline from "Apple will not push a cheaper smartphone for the sake of market share", to "Apple wants to provide the best products, will not blindly pursue market share".
Apple confirmed the interview had taken place and that it had contacted the Chinese newspaper about amending its original article, but had no further comment and declined to provide a transcript of the interview.
A reporter at the Shanghai Evening News who identified himself as Huang Yinlong, whose byline appeared on the stories, said the paper had made some changes, as Schiller's remarks may not have been presented as clearly as possible.
As well as deleting references to cheap smartphones, paraphrased statements attributed to Schiller in the original version were replaced with direct quotations.
Asked if the paper had made the changes at Apple's request, Huang said that the paper had made the decision on its own.
"We deliberated about it, and wanted to reflect (Schiller's) meaning in the interview more accurately, so we made some adjustments", said Huang, adding the interview was conducted in Beijing on Tuesday.
The original story had quoted Schiller as saying that developing a cheaper smartphone to try and replace feature phones was not a direction in which the company wanted to head.
That comment was amended in the new version of the story, which now cites Schiller as saying that while some manufacturers are moving toward such cheaper smartphones, "Apple has always focused on providing the best products for its consumers, we've never blindly chased market share."
An operator at the Shanghai Evening News said the paper did not have a spokesperson. Queries for comment were referred to Editor-in-Chief Niu Yefang, whose phone went unanswered.
A spokeswoman for Apple in China could not be reached immediately.
Apple rarely addresses rumors about upcoming products, which often spur intense speculation. Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal cited anonymous sources as saying Apple could release a cheaper iPhone as early as this year.
(Reporting by Edwin Chan and Wan Xu in San Francisco, and Terril Yue Jones in Beijing; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Jeremy Laurence)