‘Fake’ Apple Stores Not Just a Chinese Phenomenon

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Phoney Apple stores are cropping up around the world, highlighting the scale of the problem facing the brand

The blogger who exposed fake Apple stores in China claims to have received dozens of responses from readers with more examples of Apple ‘rip-offs’ from around the world.

Hot on the heels of revealing three phoney Apple stores in south-west China, the BirdAbroad blog has posted reader submitted images of Apple stores of dubious and, in some cases, laughable provenance from Burma, Croatia and yet more in China.

It claims also to have also been alerted to stores in Slovenia, Spain and Colombia.

Viral sensation

The BirdAbroad blog, maintained by an American ex-pat, posted last week that she had come across three apparently unauthorised replicas of Apple stores masquerading as the real thing in the city of Kunming.

The initial posting went viral on the back of the remarkable lengths to which the stores’ proprietors had gone to emulate the iconic stores.

Three days after publishing the story, the BirdAbroad blog claimed to be heading toward one million hits.  And, although previous posts typically received single digit responses, the story had received more than 900 comments in five days.

Unwanted attention

However, it also focussed plenty of unwanted attention on the stores and their employees.

Over the weekend the Chinese authorities reported they had in fact found five unauthorised Apple stores and closed two down for trading without the appropriate licenses, not for copyright infringement. It said all were selling genuine Apple products.

The blogger also said she had been contacted by many of the world’s biggest news organisations looking for comment as well as receiving some more personal requests from within China.

“I’ve also been called upon to publicly apologize to the city and people of Kunming for…I don’t even know what. Presumably for besmirching their good name,” she posted.

Just like the real thing

The people behind the copycat stores appeared to have gone to great lengths to imitate the real-thing, right down to the blue Apple t-shirts and name tags for staff, the light-coloured wood counters, winding staircase and poster displays.

However, the signage in the stores found by BirdAbroad state ‘Apple Store’, which never appears in genuine Apple stores, the stairs are poorly made and the walls not painted properly. Photos even show one store where the sign outside reads ‘Apple Stroe’.

Double edged sword

China, as well as being a huge market for Apple, is a counterfeiting hotbed so Apple, the world’s largest brand, a prime target.

China has become the second-largest market, after the United States, for apps that run on the smartphone and tablet, according to Distimo, a Dutch company that tracks the popularity of apps.

China’s four stores in Beijing (pictured) and Shanghai are claimed to be the company’s most visited in the world and China’s Xinhua news agency reported today that Apple is further expanding with a third store in Shanghai.

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