On a bustling street in China’s southern boomtown of Shenzhen, more than 30 stores carrying Apple Inc’s iconic white logos peddle pre-orders for the new iPhone, a gadget that has become a status symbol among many better-off Chinese.
Many of the stores look just like Apple’s signature outlets, right down to the sales staff kitted out in blue T-shirts bearing the company’s white logo and the sample iPads and iWatches displayed on sleek wooden tables.
But the world’s second-largest smartphone vendor only has one official store in Shenzhen and five authorized dealers in the area. Most of the stores in the roughly 1 km shopping corridor are unauthorised “fakes” – although they are selling genuine Apple products – and their numbers have mushroomed ahead of the release on Friday of the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6s Plus.
The rapid increase in copycat Apple stores underscores the popularity of the brand in China, where it doubled its revenue in the third quarter from a year earlier to more than $13 billion, and suggests the US tech giant is on course to shrug off weakening consumer spending in its second biggest market.
“There are many Apple fans in China,” said a clerk surnamed Zhao at one of the unauthorised dealers that opened just two weeks ago. “There are many silly people in China who are willing to pay extra money just to get a new iPhone ahead of everyone else.”
Apple routinely grapples with iPhone supply constraints, particularly in years that involve a smartphone re-design.
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