Chinese bootleggers have been making cheap knockoffs of Apple products for years, but now the crooks have upped their game. Instead of trying to peddle their fake iPads and iPhones from the back of a Chinese white van, entire fake Apple Stores are starting to pop up around the country.
An American couple living in Kunming simply stumbled across one after they returned from a two month trip. The place is so realistic, that at first they placed bets as to whether it might actually be the genuine article.
The first problem is that Kunming is a remote city way off the beaten path, hundreds of miles from the only genuine Apple Stores in China over in Beijing and Shanghai. Then they noticed that the sign said "Apple Store" instead of having just an Apple logo. Inside, the store was staffed with the usual blue shirt wearing "geniuses," and had a kind of low-rent version of the Apple Store style and layout. Even when they quizzed the staff, everyone seemed to genuinely believe that they were really working for Apple.
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Best of all, when they wandered a bit more around town, they discovered two more "Apple Stores" within a few blocks of the first one. Well, one was actually an "Apple Stoer" as you can see in the pictures.
One thing that isn't clear, is whether the products they are selling are genuine stuff that just happened to fall off the back of an Apple cart, or perhaps they are also knockoffs.
So, how long before Steve Jobs sends the heavies around to deal with this one?