Counterfeit Apple products are nothing new but evidence suggests that counterfeit Apple Stores are cropping up in parts of China.
The author of the Bird Abroad blog, an anonymous 27-year-old female living in Kunming, China, claims that she walked into one of the counterfeit stores recently, just a few blocks away from where she and her husband live.
Photographs on the blog entry show what looks like, to all intents and purposes, an Apple Store. The author was apparently stopped from photographing by shop staff and security guards. One photograph bears the legend 'Apple Stoer' above some Chinese characters.
"They looked like Apple products. It looked like an Apple store. It had the classic Apple store winding staircase and weird upstairs sitting area. The employees were even wearing those blue t-shirts with the chunky Apple name tags around their necks," the author writes.
"This was a total Apple store ripoff. A beautiful ripoff – a brilliant one – the best ripoff store we had ever seen (and we see them every day). But some things were just not right: the stairs were poorly made. The walls hadn’t been painted properly.
"The name tags around the necks of the friendly salespeople didn’t actually have names on them – just an Apple logo and the anonymous designation 'Staff'. And of course, Apple’s own website will tell you that they only have a few stores in Beijing and Shanghai, opened only recently," she continues.
The author also contends that in a ten-minute walk in the surrounding area, she and her husband found two more rip-off Apple Stores.
Ironically, Apple reported yesterday that China was key to the company's quarterly revenue of $28.57bn. "I firmly believe that we're just scratching the surface right now. I think there is incredible opportunity for Apple there," Cook said.
If the report on the Bird Abroad blog is true, then it seems that the clamour for Apple-branded products in China is perhaps even greater than Cook believes.