We've all seen, or atleast heard of, Chinese phones and tablets which mimic the hugely popular iphones and ipads, often unrecognizably so. The reported fake Apple stores however, take piracy to a whole new level.
Last week, when Apple reported a 125% rise in profits year-on-year, the company's Chief Operating Officer, Tim Cook, attributed a large part of this growth to increased demand in China, saying that “China was very key to our results… This has been a substantial opportunity for Apple, and I firmly believe that we’re just scratching the surface right now.”
Apple has declined to comment on these fake stores in Kunming which were reported last week by an anonymous American blogger who lives this southwestern Chinese city.
However, according to a report by Dushi Shibao, a local Kunming newspaper, posted on the Kunming city government’s website, two stores that used the Apple logo in Kunming without the company’s consent, have been ordered to be shut down by the city’s authorities.
Apple Stores in China
Apple has four authorized retail stores in China – two in Beijing and two in Shanghai. The two in Shanghai include the recently opened 16,000-square-foot one, which is already reporting shortage of space given the crowds that come flocking in.
The popularity of Apple’s smartphones and tablets amongst the Chinese is apparent from Apple’s statistics which report that these four Chinese outlets are the company’s four most heavily trafficked Apple stores in the world, generating the highest revenue and outdoing even the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.
And while Apple has said that the company is now planning a third, even larger Shanghai store, along with another one in Hong Kong, as far as Kunming is concerned, the city has no authorized “stores”, only 13 authorized resellers which are not permitted to label themselves as being “Apple Stores”, and neither are they allowed to claim that they work for Apple.
Apple is known for being painstakingly careful and strategic about any new stores that are opened, for obvious reasons of quality and customer demand.
The company also has very strict guidelines about the look and feel of an Apple Store.
The reported fake Apple store in Kunming, according to reports by the anonymous blogger who stumbled upon it, looks exactly like a real Apple store.
“It had the classic Apple store winding staircase and weird upstairs sitting area. The employees were even wearing those blue t-shirts with the chunky Apple name tags around their necks,” she writes.
Except that this store had “Apple Store” written on the front of the store, along with the glowing fruit sign, something a real Apple store would never do. This, alongwith poorly detailed finishes to the staircases and the walls, sparked off suspicions, and given that Apple itself says it has only four authorized stores in China, obviously the store was a fake.
The same blogger, went on to find two more fake Apple stores in the area, with the same “Apple Store” written (and in one case, even mis-spelt), on the front of the store.
Employees at the stores however, all seemed to believe that they worked for Apple, and all the goods being sold also seemed authentic.