Now It’s Your Turn: Send Me Your Fake Apple Pics!

Hello, Internet.

To the half million of you who have visited in the past 48 hours: Welcome! Thanks for coming. As I’ve stayed awake watching you all leave comments and links, reposting and retweeting, I’ve pondered not only such grandiose matters as the smallness of the world and the ability of the internet to connect us, but have also grappled with practical issues: What Would Sudeep Do (WWSD)?

I have decided that intrepid commenter Sudeep would now ask you all to do your part to keep up the madness and send me photos of the fake Apple stores you’ve seen.

Before we get into the intricate nest of issues around intellectual property rights in general, and specifically in China, let’s take a moment and admit that all of this ripoff junk is amazing. When it’s poorly done, it’s hilarious and a little sad. When it’s brilliantly done, it makes you stand back and wonder – the attention to detail, the belief that customers can be fooled, the willingness even to hire people and taken them unknowingly along with you on your little ruse.

Have you seen Apples stores that you think are fake in another part of China? Tonga? Dar es Salaam? Send your photos to me at birdabroadblog [AT] gmail [DOT] com. The higher quality the fake, the better. A few people have already sent in photos – if good ones keep rolling in, I’ll put them up here. Please include the location (as specifically as possible), the date you took the photo and how you’d like to be credited. Do yourself a favor, and check Apple’s website first to see if it’s an actual Apple reseller.

Speaking of which, to address the main issue that people have been getting all bent out of shape about: the stores I photographed do not appear to be authorized Apple sellers. The list of resellers in Kunming that Apple’s website has published does not include the locations that I photographed. An employee at the main store photographed has confirmed that it is not an authorized reseller. Apple itself has confirmed that it is a fake.

So. Begin!

Hanoi, Vietnam. October 2010. Courtesy of RP

77 Comments

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77 responses to “Now It’s Your Turn: Send Me Your Fake Apple Pics!

  1. crikey Jessica the response was so massive! I could not believe what a stir your article caused! well done you.

  2. The story is very well written. Great read.

  3. You can quit your day job now that your going viral. Stock up on coffee, get an agent, then hang on for dear life. Beware of paparazzi’s.

  4. I’m sure someone in the 500+ comments on the previous entry already told you this but congrats on being cited in Yahoo’s front-page news story!

    While I can subjectively admire the creativity of these copycats, from a legal standpoint, I feel sorry for them once Apple gets onto it. And I’m even sadder when I wonder — just what could they have accomplished if they’d put all this effort into something original?

  5. I was so excited to see your blog all over the news today :) Yay for WordPress!

  6. I have seen the store in Hanoi that’s in this photo. A five-minute bike ride from where I live, near several schools.

  7. Ha! I remember this one in Hanoi. It was icky! I went in to get a replacement power supply for my MBP. They didn’t have one, no MBPs either for that matter. They had a few older iPods and sold mostly Sony and Hitachi products, which have manufacturing facilities on the other side of the river.

  8. alvin

    i saw the “pirated” hard rock cafe in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) back in 2003. replete with the neon guitar sign. initially i tot it was the real thing but then a close up visit reveals it is a knock-off, and a poor one at that (in the interior). i believed they even sold Hard Rock Cafe Saigon t-shirts inside.

  9. jcole

    its interesting this “apple” store also has the IBM and VAIO logo on the outside all…which a real apple store would NEVER sell!!

  10. You’ll need an agent soon — my coworkers are all discussing this story!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-14236786

  11. Have been following your fascinating story since yesterday when I found it on BoingBoing. Although it appears Apple has a good case for bringing these imposters to court, it will never happen in China. The law there is whatever the Party says it is at this or that moment. And the party NEVER loses.

    And as for all these other charlatan Apple stores around the globe, they are instantly recognizable thanks to their shoddy workmanship:

    http://savvysavingbytes.com/2011/05/apple-stores-balancing-acts-between-the-old-and-the-new/

  12. Schultz

    I like that the Hanoi “Apple Store” apparently sells Sony Laptops, based on the picture.

  13. HAHA, fake Apple Store, fake Apple staff, fake badges. Will there be a fake Steve Jobs in China?

  14. Kev dop

    “Imitation is the finest form of flattery” said one deluded person to a mirror.

  15. Laura

    Hey!!!
    You just made me realize, I, too, have been in a fake Apple Store without knowing it! While I was living in Bogotá, Colombia last year I found an Apple Store in the middle of a very trendy area of the city. I swear to you it looked like any store I’ve been to in the States. But nowhere does it show on the Apple website that there is a store in Colombia, nor did I find any authorized resellers there. This is too funny!!!!

  16. David

    The entire scenario is really unfortunate. On an even BIGGER scale…back in 2006 the entire company of NEC was faked. They produced products, even designed new ones, maintained several facilities, sold and distributed under the NEC name.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/01/technology/01pirate.html

  17. steve jobs better watch his a**. i’m not sure why americans are so surprised and offended by this. bootleg markets have been in existence for years, selling everything knock-off under the sun. it was only a matter of time before they mastered the entire apple store.

    • David

      Okay – I agree that we shouldn’t be surprised, but you’re not sure why Americans are offended by this????? Imagine that you create a product you are incredibly proud of, that is unique and could help provide a living for you and your family. Then imagine that you take this product to be manufactured in China only to find out that someone at the factory has taken the design, knocked it off and is profiting from it and stealing your market before you even have a chance to profit from your wonderful creation. Would this not be offensive to you????

      • yeah, i def. agree with you there, i’m not attempting to argue from the moral standpoint. i just feel that people unfairly attack china in regards to this kind of stuff. lets not forget you can go to downtown LA and buy bootleg bags, dvds, watches, louis vuitton, gucci, etc.

      • Expat in the forest

        You get what you pay for, stop being so offended. To whit – every big firm (American, German, whatever) goes to manufacture in China with huge profit signs in their eyes. But guess what? Out the back door and stealing IPR are par for the course there, and compliment just fine a mentality of pay for the cheapest labor possible (as in – profit, profit, profit – only this time it’s the subcontractors trying to squeeze the lemon). You gotta pay something for a stable business environment in a country with strong IPR laws and enforcement, and this means higher costs, higher wages that make a tax base to support that enforcement.

      • We here in the Philippines have our brand of bootlegging so I must agree that I should’t be too harsh with China on this one. But something’s telling me deep down my gut – this sooooo wrong. One, bootlegging has gone to such mind-boggling proportions. And the extent of trickery that it has spread that even employees were told that they are working for the real brand. Whoa! What’s the word? Crooks.

  18. Broken Hearted Kunming Teacher

    I knew my computer was messed with. I took it to one of these supposed resellers in Kunming near the Big Computer Outlet on Yi Er Yi Da Jie and now when outside of China, I still can’t get You Tube or Facebook. These Dude screwed with my computer. What a drag? I now have to have it looked at by someone.

  19. There’s a fake Apple Store in Haimen, China (a 2 hour drive north of Shanghai). My wife grew up there and we were back visiting earlier this year. She can get a friend to take a picture if you need one.

    It’s my opinion that there are fake Apple Stores everywhere in China as I remember seeing them in some other cities we visited. Perhaps fake Apple Stores are franchised or owned by a central company.

  20. goose

    Here’s some pictures I took from a fake apple store in Xian, China in May 2011.

    http://imgur.com/a/xGgdw#0ZL04

  21. so excited to see you were picked up by yahoo! every bloggers dream! love your blog btw glad i found it!!!

  22. Justin

    How are the prices on the goods at the Kumming store? Is it so much cheaper than a real Apple store?

  23. Anamaria

    Hi! I’m from Costa Rica, here we have 2 kinds of “authorized” stores called iCon and iOne, between there, the differences on the apple products are huge, they have all the logos, the t-shirts and the deco, but the products are not all originals and the prices are too far from the US reality…

  24. Andres Sanata

    “Hey!!!
    You just made me realize, I, too, have been in a fake Apple Store without knowing it! While I was living in Caracas”.. and Margarita Island”…, Venezuela last year I found an Apple Store in the middle of a very trendy area of the city. I swear to you it looked like any store I’ve been to in the States. But nowhere does it show on the Apple website that there is a store in Venezuela, nor did I find any authorized resellers there. This is too funny!!!!”

  25. Lidia Li

    Haha, I was propelled to your blog from the BBC World News’s article about this. First, congratulations to landing your blog entry on every major newspaper! :D

    Second, as someone who frequently visits China to see family, I must ask if you’ve been to Beijing’s Zhongguancun Electronics market in Haidian district? (Where bootleg and stuff that “fell off trucks” have reigned supreme since the 90’s ^_^;. still it is a -huuuge- market.) I’m going there today, and it’ll be fun to see if their Apple stores are authentic or not.

  26. Nice job you did with this article, ur blog just sky-rocketed with traffic over night. Keep up the good post, now ur blog it’s next to viral :)

  27. Jorge

    Wow!!! incredible, i’m spanish guy that lives in Chongqing, actually i’ve been on an apple store 2 days ago, my sorprise when i read the news on a spanish digital diary today about your blog and i want to check. It’s really interesting, in the town where i live are 35 million people living and i know like 10 different apple stores, but you can imagine how many could it be…it’s incredible!!! i’ll send you on these days some pictures of the stores. The most incredible thing it’s to read about what you said, because was strange what they sell in the store, ofcourse the 99% are apple things, but we, my girlfriend and me, ask about the antivirus and the program and they told us that was from microsoft…ummm…strange!!! But the funny thing was that if we want a guaranty for three years we have to pay between 2000 to 3000 RMB more for the computers, i don’t know if this work like this. Anyway, they looks like they don’t have a big idea about what they really sell, but i’ll send you and please give us more information about this things, it’s so great!!!

  28. Italica

    Do something better in China this country gives u more opportunities to learn about culture and traditions, don’t waste time trying on this, however don’t forget that apple made their products in Shenzhen and the condition of the workers are not so good you should make a research about American brands that manufacture products in china and Asia that’s really interesting not this useless informatio, I hope apple pays to you a lot for u effort on this.

  29. In China, almost everywhere have a fake apple store.As a result, many people don’t shop in local APP store. They buy Parallel,and Its cheaper than the “licensed”inland.I’m just a Chinese student.But very dislike the FAKE

  30. I know someone who started a business with a unique product that he had made in China, then proceeded to spend more in legal representation than he had in product development to litigate against companies who would be poised to knock off his product and beat him to market. Sick…

  31. Really unfortunate to have fake Apple stores.

    Apple doesn’t seem to mind; they haven’t commented on the fake stores!

    Does that add to the belief that some counterfeiting aids publicity?

  32. Murray Whittington

    Interesting that Apple hasn’t jumped in and shut the place down in a hurry, they got plenty of money to hire law enforcement to make this happen, Pirates will keep trying in all angles to rip innocent consumers off, after all people is dumping windows PC machines for Apple now as they have a new market products we all fall in love with… after all I have 6 Apple products at home and no problems yet.

    and no Fake stores in NZ yet either, maybe Australia may have one ;-)

    Murray
    New Zealand

  33. Garion

    There is one in Xi’an, on the east Avenue, close to the bell tower. Didn’t take picture though.

    I was a bit amazed to see an Apple store opened while not yet finished.

  34. A good article and good to see a quality blog hitting the jackpot with the media coverage.

    In relation to the wonder this story has provoked …

    An Apple Store is just a shop. Who cares if it is operated by Apple or not? It is the products it sells that are important. I really can’t understand why the shop appears to be of more interest than the products. This is not a religion. It’s just a retailer selling stuff that was manufactured in the Far East to start with.

    If they sell the same stuff cheaper then who cares what labels are in the window or whether Apple ever use the words “Apple Store”.

    Get a sense of perspective. There is far more to life than praying at the corporate alter of Apple. Buy their products, don’t buy their products. That is your choice but get over the worshipping of a shop.

  35. Fake Apple stores in Kunming City, China mentioned in The Telegraph, BBC News and LinkedIn among other online News

  36. What the..? I saw a small “apple store” in Ljubljana (Slovenia) and another one in Granada (Spain), just checked out http://www.apple.com/retail/storelist/ and they are not on the list. Looks like this is bigger than it seems.

  37. gohome

    This explain why Apple can sell 30 million iphone in several days. Do your math before commenting about fake stuff. Company management are already selling its product via several channels.

  38. cutie mei

    Now take photos at united states of long lines of unemployed and then you make a post: “Are you listening, Steve Jobs?”
    Now you go to Somalia to take pictures of millions of people who are starving and then make a post: “Are you listening, Steve Jobs?”
    U.S. entrepreneurs get rich by paying low wages and impoverished the people of other countries like China taking advantage of their extreme financial need
    you’re looking for the apple you give away an iPod, an iPhone and iPad bring them gossip?
    hypocritical you are an opportunist. you do this to attract visitors to your blog.

    Maintenant, prenez des photos au Etats-Unis de longues lignes de chômeurs et ensuite vous faire un post: “Etes-vous écoute, Steve Jobs?”
    Maintenant, vous aller en Somalie pour prendre des photos de millions de personnes qui meurent de faim et ensuite faire un post: “Etes-vous écoute, Steve Jobs?”
    Les entrepreneurs américains de s’enrichir en payant des salaires bas et appauvri les peuples d’autres pays comme la Chine en profitant de leurs besoins financiers extrêmes
    vous cherchez la Apple vous donner un iPod, un iPhone et iPad leur apporter ragots?
    hypocrites que vous êtes un opportuniste. vous faites cela pour attirer les téléspectateurs vers votre blog.

    Ve a tomar fotos en los Estados Unidos de las largas filas de desempleados y luego haces un post: “¿Me estás escuchando, Steve Jobs?”
    Ahora vas a Somalia para tomar imágenes de millones de personas que se mueren de hambre y luego hacer un post: “¿Me estás escuchando, Steve Jobs?”
    Los empresarios de Estados Unidos se enriquecen mediante el pago de bajos salarios y empobrecido a la gente de otros países como China, aprovechándose de su necesidad económica extrema
    Tu estas buscando que la Apple te regale un iPod, un iPhone y iPad por llevarles el chisme?
    hipócrita! Tu eres una oportunista. haces esto para atraer visitantes a tu blog.

    • David

      You’re looking at it the wrong way!!! It is not America’s fault that Chinese labor is so much cheaper….but it is. You can thank companies like Foxconn and Flextronics etc as well as the Chinese government for working conditions and labor wages. Think about how many Chinese people would be unemployed without all of these manufacturing jobs. Wages continue to rise in China and more and more Chinese people are making better money. This is because China has become the world’s contract manufacturer. We sstill have every right to be upset with the Chinese continuing to steal our IP and our secrets.

  39. Traveler

    Got no pic, but there was also one small “Apple Store” in Chang’an (Shenzhen). Also “Staff” namesigns, original looking products, original looking interior.

  40. I mean, my 80-year old grandma works in what looks like a FAKE McDonald’s….

  41. RotJ

    I found your post through micgadget, which already compiled a gallery of fake Apple stores.

    http://micgadget.com/13872/there-are-lots-of-fake-apple-stores-across-china/

  42. Lorenzo

    Is thos also a fake?? http://www.ijam.es

    I think it is simply great!

  43. Elijah

    You are awesome! Be safe in your travels and thank you for sharing this story. Every large media outlet here in the states is running this story. Here’s the Rueters article:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/22/us-china-apple-fakestore-idUSTRE76L20U20110722

  44. The question is: How will Apple react? And what if you were so unfortunate to buy an iPhone there?

  45. Josh

    News flash! Fake Apple stores have been around in China for quite a while. And before that, you could buy Apple related stuff at the local shangchang for cheap.
    For crying out loud, don’t you have anything better to do? Raising funds for chinese peasent kids; helping the poor. Not advocating for a multi-billion dollar corp. That would be time well spent!

    真丟臉的!

    • David

      The Chinese could help themselves if they would spend their energy and resources on coming up with something new and innovative on their own. This would create new business and help employ more people etc etc… Piggybacking on some other country’s/companies success only puts money in the pockets of criminals. This encourages more of this and other types of crime as well. What’s right is right. There is nothing wrong with advocating for the RIGHT thing. It’s about integrity.

  46. Hans Olaf Esser

    Go on Chinese Apple dealers!!!

    Chinese workers are exploited at Foxconn, while producing Apple Products, now Chinese dealers take the revenue from Apple by selling false products.

    If you buy a “real” Apple product, always remember: It is not made by Apple, it is made by poorly paid Chinese workers. And copied Apple products come from the same country and they are produced under the same conditions.

  47. Grinderswitch

    Hi, dear BIRDABROAD !
    Your amazing “Fake-Apple-Store-Story” has been published today by the german digital newspaper “SPIEGEL ONLINE”, a web-branch of the weekly print-magazine “SPIEGEL” (it’s Germany’s form of the U.S. “TIME” magazine).
    You can read it here – in german language of course ;-)
    http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/web/0,1518,775980,00.html
    Congratulations for your BIG SUCCESS in the Bloggerworld – and abroad.
    Greetz from: Bochum, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, Europe, Earth.

  48. Unbelieveable! What about the products, are they all fake or is it just the store?? What about my new iPad2??? *scare*

  49. Could you update the number of visitor to the site? Thanks.

  50. Alex

    check this out, cloned cars!!!!!!!!

  51. Johnny Rotten

    飞回家,鸟!

  52. Axel

    hehe well guys I think one of the most important questions to ask is: what about the products? I do know some ppl in china (foreigners) that they do believe they have original products, Most of them of course doesn’t have them. If you place an original besides a copy you can barely notice the difference, and while you are using them there seems not to be a difference at all, even you can download and buy products from itunes. However I stop discussion with the “happy owners” to avoid problems but only if you have an expert eye you can realize the difference. It’s really interesting and it’s the first time I hear about macbook copies, wow. However, if you are interested about this, apple assemble it’s products at a factory at south China. Iphone4 for example reaches USA land with a total of 174 USD worth each, paying everything, that was by the time for it launching So it’s a very lucrative business, I’ve seen tablets which can be take as Ipad2. really wonderful stuff and it worth 1/3 the price and you can bargain, hehe. The main difference is the weight, copies are lighter. That’s a basic among original and copies all over the fake stuff for all the brands. I know that because I’m a technology fan and I work with trade. So I got some skills to recognize them.

  53. Qi

    You have put a lot of people who were selling real products (in China……!!) out of a job – and done a great dis-service to all of us who want to buy apple products but who don’t want to have to travel all the way to Shanghai or Beijing. Thanks very much.

    • LD

      That’s a really narrow-minded, self-centered thing to say. Is that really all you can see in this story?

    • David

      …..and how about the thousands and thousands of people we employ by sending the vast majority of our manufacturing to China?!??!?!? That doesn’t count in your book??

      I’ll tell you what….weed out the criminals, the IP thieves, the manufacturers that use substandard or even dangerous materials and processes and we will continue to send business your way. Try to steal from us etc…and we will pursue consequences.

  54. thehogiehub

    Not to add more comments for you to sort through, but I found a multitude in Wenzhou: http://thehoghiehub.wordpress.com/2011/07/26/more-than-a-few-bad-apples-in-china/

    Good stuff and congrats on all the media attention!

  55. Arn

    Welcome to “free-market capitalism”, Apple

  56. A guest

    You may not have intended this, but I was more intruiged by the few earlier posts about your work in China and the conditions faced in the hospital… well-written, and, unlike the Apple Stores, genuine and thought-provoking.

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