July 28, 2011
Last week a lone blogger broke the news that not one but three fake Apple stores had sprung up in the city of Kunming in China, though it appears the problem is fast becoming a worldwide one for Apple to deal with.
It’s no secret that counterfeit goods are commonplace in China, and there are moves afoot to attempt to tackle this issue, at least online. However, this is a very different beast. There has been an explosion of commentary in the press about these fake stores, mostly focusing on the fact that they exist, and mostly failing to draw any comment for Apple.
Action has been taken. According to China Daily, “A local authority had previously said that two of the stores were suspended for not having business licenses. But the local industrial and commercial bureau confirmed to the Shanghai Morning Post on Tuesday that one of them had in fact obtained a license on June 22 and thus could stay open.”
The general tone of the various reports is that the stores are selling genuine Apple products bought wholesale through genuine channels, and that the only reason they would be closed down is because they didn’t follow local laws to obtain a retail license. Not because of any IPR infringement. This will be an interesting story to watch play out — because if that turns out to be true, it sets a gloomy precedent for other retailers who may be suffering the same challenge.
What all of the reporting fails to comment on is how many other counterfeit stores might there be out there — not just of Apple, but of dozens or even hundreds of brands?
Sure, Apple is a high-profile target, but there is a booming luxury market in China with many well-known western brands gaining a significant mindshare with consumers in China. We take a look at the subject of globalization in Zia’s report, but this whole Apple story opens up another conundrum.
What if you’ve already been globalized and you don’t even know it?