Some 22 new fake Apple stores have been discovered in South Western China. This comes just weeks after an American blogger unearthed a store so convincing its staff apparently thought they worked for Steve Jobs himself.
All 22 of the stores are in the city of Kunming, where the original fake store was found. The shops have all since been ordered to stop using the Apple logo on their store fronts, state-run China National Radio said on its website.
It has also been reported that Chinese authorities shut down two of the fake stores after an investigation into 300 IT retailers in the city.
After the original store was uncovered, The Wall Street Journal spoke to one of its salesmen. He revealed that not only was the store a fake but that it was not even authorised to sell Apple products.
“It doesn’t make much of a difference for us whether we’re authorised or not,” he said. “I just care that what I sell every day are authentic Apple products, and that our customers don’t come back to me to complain about the quality of the products.”
The Journal also reports that a number of the Apple products sold in the copy-cat stores are thought to have originally been bought from the legitimate Apple outlets in the country, while others have been smuggled in from outside the country.
The Apple website lists just four official stores in China — two in Beijing and two in Shanghai — although many more are authorised to sell its products.
The site also lists a number of guidelines which authorised sellers are required to follow in the design of their stores and the display of Apple products.
That such a large number of unauthorised stores can be found in one city is symptomatic of China’s flourishing appetite for Apple products.
This appetite is further fed by a sophisticated counterfeit market. A good example this willingness to openly rip-off Apple products is the entry onto the market of the “HiPhone 5“. The US$30 iPhone knockoff reportedly features Wi-Fi, a micro SD slot, a cellular radio and a touch screen which requires a stylus to operate properly.
The phone’s design is supposed to have been based on leaked images of the upcoming iPhone5.
Authorities have reportedly set up a complaints hotline for the public to help them track down pirated goods and shops in the wake of the Apple shop frauds.