Tip of the 'fake Apple store' iceberg in China?

Customers test out electronic products in a fake Apple Store in Kunming, Yunnan province July 22, 2011. The fake Apple store in China, made famous by a blog that said even the staff working there didn't realise it was a bogus outlet, is probably the most audacious example to date of the risks Western companies face in the booming Chinese market. The less-publicised phenomenon of unauthorised vendors setting up shop to peddle real products has grown alongside China's manufacturing prowess. Many of the factories that produce brand-name goods on contract have been known to do extra runs of the goods to make extra cash, analysts say. Credit: REUTERS/Aly Song

Nearly two dozen bogus Apple retail outlets exposed. That's a lot of fake Apple stores!

If people running the nearly two-dozen-and-counting fake Apple stores in China were on top of their game, each outlet would have its own Fake Steve Jobs. That's how you achieve authenticity -- the details.

[ Fake Apple Store fallout ]

Instead, the unauthorized stores selling either smuggled Apple products or knockoffs are being shut down left and right. From Reuters:

Authorities in China's southwestern city of Kunming have identified another 22 unauthorized Apple retailers weeks after a fake of the company's store in the city sparked an international storm.

China's Administration for Industry and Commerce in the Yunnan provincial capital said the stores have been ordered to stop using Apple's logo after Apple China accused them of unfair competition and violating its registered trademark, state media said on Thursday.

Notice that all of the unauthorized Apple stores were found in one city, Kunming. What's up with that? A quick look at Wikipedia tells me that Kunming has an urban population of 3.2 million and a metropolitan population of 6.8 million. The city certainly is big enough to accommodate two dozen or so fake Apple store! But it's also only the 16th-largest city in China. Are we to believe that fake Apple stores are a Kunming-specific phenomenon? It doesn't make sense. When this is all said and done, expect to see hundreds of unauthorized Apple stores in China. And when that happens, the real Steve Jobs is going to flip out.

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