updated 02:45 am EDT, Wed July 20, 2011
Employees actually believe they work for Apple
On the heels of today's conference call with analysts where Apple executives raved over the tremendous growth in China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region comes a report via ifoAppleStore of an American blogger living in China who uncovered no less than three unauthorized, counterfeit Apple retail stores -- each selling genuine Apple products and styled to copy the look and feel, right down to having employees who genuinely believe they work for Apple.
The discovery was made in the town of Kunming, a provincial capital in the Yunnan province in southwest China, home to a population of around 6.8 million. The fake stores went to great lengths to simulate the atmosphere and style of a genuine Apple Store, complete with Apple-logo blue t-shirts on the staff.
Tell-tale signs, however, give the game away: the stores use the printed words "Apple Store" (or in one case "Apple Stoer") alongside the iconic logo, employee name tags did not have actual names on them (just "Staff") and other cosmetic differences or cost-cutting evidence.
According to the blogger, who is identified only as "Jessica," the employees of the stores are entirely unaware of the deception, and believe they are working directly for Apple. While taking pictures (below) of the stores, she was approached by security and asked to stop, until she implied that she was also associated with Apple in the U.S., whereupon they allowed her to continue.
Name-brand goods in stylish, Western-style stores has become increasingly important to the affluent Chinese middle class, and areas like Kunming have seen rapid urban and commercialized development in recent years. The items in the fake Apple stores appear to be real, but the store itself is not authorized by Apple.
Whether the company is aware of the issue, or what it may do about such unauthorized stores, remains to be seen. Jessica speculated that if fake Apple Stores are present in a province so far away from the legitimate Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai, there are likely to be other copycat outlets in other provinces. [via ifoAppleStore, original story and photos via BirdAbroad]