Apple has struggled with fake Apple Stores in China for years. A new report from Reuters (via The Loop) said that such stores are flourishing, so much so that secondary businesses have sprung up to supply the fake stores with shirts, signage, and the accouterments needed to make the fakes look real.
A fake iPhone 6s (or iPhone s) and a fake iPhone 6s Plus running Android skinned to look like iOS
Source: screenshot from Reuters Video
Reuters found more than 30 stores on just one street in Shenzhen carrying the Apple logo. This included several set up to look like a real Apple Store, right down to blue T-shirts with Apple logos on the staff. Shenzhen has but one real Apple Store in the city, plus five authorized resellers.
A complete lack of respect for intellectual property is systemic in China, a country where crackdowns are few and piracy is rampant. Apple is considered a status brand in the country, making it ripe for fake stores and fake products, too.
The release of iPhone 6s on Friday, September 25th, has apparently sparked an explosion of these stores, too. Some are selling counterfeit iPhones, and some are taking "preorders" for devices that will then be purchased and smuggled into the country.
The most interesting development, however, has got to be the secondary cottage industry of supplying these stores. According to Reuters, "Just a stone's throw from the street of copycat stores, tucked away in a giant tech mall, two shops offer the logos, uniforms, display shelves and shopping bags needed to make an unauthorized outlet feel like a genuine Apple store."
What makes this all the more brazen to Western eyes is the fact these stores operate in the open. Reuters found these stores by walking down the street, not going deep undercover into a shady world of dodgy dealers and underground locations.
All of this is an indication of Apple's success in China, despite Wall Street worries about the Chinese economy. In a culture uninterested in intellectual property rights, it would probably be much more of a problem for Apple if no one was interested in ripping the company off.