Monday, July 25, 2011

China's Fake Apple Stores

China has more than just four Apple Stores. A blogger revealed this week that besides the two official locations in Beijing and two in Shanghai, that there are at least three counterfeit Apple Stores in the southern city of Kunming.

Apple hasn't commented on the fake stores, which on the surface, appear to be actual Apple Stores, with such details as acrylic product information panels, long wooden display tables, and a spiral staircase leading to the second level. Even the employees are outfitted in Apple t-shirts and white Apple name tags. It's unclear if Apple will crack down, or if it even can.

However, on the heels of this buzz-worthy news, Chinese industrial and commercial authorities have begun to inspect electronics stores in Kunming, Reuters reports.

The inspections are not authorized by Apple. A worker with Kunming's industrial and commercial department told Reuters they will explore "business licenses, authorized permits on brand use, and the purchase channel of each store."

A store doesn't have to be an official, typically glass-fronted Apple Store in order to sell Apple products. It's possible to become an Authorized Apple Reseller through an application process. For example, there are reports that Apple product maker Foxconn is in the gaining authorization to start selling Apple products in its own stores.

There are 13 authorized resellers in Kunming, but the three stores in question don't have this kind of designation, although they're selling real iPads, iPhones, iPods, and other Apple swag. There is no indication that the store's owners will try to become legitimate, or if Apple would even allow it.

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