Apple has always been a target for copycats in China, with many big name brands like Oppo, Xiaomi and Meizu starting out by copying Apple’s phone design.
One month before the Apple Watch is expected to go on sale, several fake companies have set up shop on Taobao, the Alibaba run store that transacts almost half of all online orders in China.
Most of them claim their product is either the Apple Watch, or an alternative with the same ‘Apple Watch’ brand name. All come for a cheaper price and run an off-the-shelf Android version weld onto a smaller screen, compatible with both Android and iOS.
Prices go as low as £30 for one of the fakes, offering phone calling, text messages and other functionality. These watches could be running Google’s own Android Wear platform, although it is not clear if Google works with fake companies.
Alibaba has said it is committed to getting rid of the counterfeit goods on its Taobao service, following an investigation by the Chinese government into Alibaba’s lack of oversight on its store.
This will make it harder for fake Apple Watch dealers to sell large quantities before the real thing arrives next month. It is not clear if China is actually interested in the wearable however, considering the high price for an unknown piece of tech.
Xiaomi’s own Mi Band sold relatively well in China, attaining over one million pre-orders last year. This fitness band was very inexpensive, while the Apple Watch could be a monthly wage for a lot of Chinese workers.
There is an interest in the super-rich in China for Apple, who might be interested in the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition. This option has come under scrutiny in the West, due to its lack of interesting features apart from the solid gold design, and prices ranging up to £10,000.