A new worrying phenomenon has cropped up in China and Apple has been its first victim; meet the first fake Apple Stores, entire buildings that have been designed to look like the real thing.
Chinese companies have long been known for being master copiers but this takes the concept of plagiarism and copying to a whole new level. As expected, everything, from the architecture of the building, to the products, the T-shirt worn by the staff down to the logo and the badge design come from Cupertino.
A website called BirdAbroad (opens in new tab) has pictures of what looks like an Apple store but is in reality a completely genuine rip-off; the author of the post also confirms that the store was torn down and replaced by a bank but that two others have quickly appeared near to the original location located in a Chinese town called Kunming.
She did notice some uncommon features like the fact that the signage reads Apple Store (or even Stoer), the nameless staff badges, the poorly made signature spiral staircase, the walls that hadn't been properly painted and so on.
The author did not mention whether the store was actually selling real products (either from the grey market or those which fell from the back of lorries) or so called KIRF (Keep It Real Fake) products like the iPhone 4 (some with a normal SIM and running Android).
She also didn't say if the shop sold unannounced Apple products like the iPad 3 or the iPhone 5 but did point out that the store's employees may have been conned into believing that they were actually going to work for Apple.
The firm has only four stores in China, two in Beijing and two in Shanghai; these four stores in China have generated on average the highest traffic and highest revenue of any of the 323 Apple stores worldwide according to a statement by the Chief Financial Officer peter Oppenheimer back in January.
Hon Hai, the parent company of Foxconn Electronics, is also said to be investing around $1.2 billion to open retail outlets in China for Apple products.