Apple news of the weird: Knock-offs in China

We're used to the spam touting cheap knock-offs of hot tech products purporting to be the real thing -- but an entire fake Apple store?

China has long had a bad reputation for pirating software and producing knock-offs of tech products, but blogger BirdAbroad has documented an ingenious exploit that goes a bit beyond these routine activities. In a post titled, "Are you listening, Steve Jobs?" she reports her wonderment at finding an Apple store in her rather out of the way city of Kunming.

RP and I went inside and poked around. 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.

BirdAbroad includes lots of pictures to illustrate her find, which she goes on to describe as a "beautiful ripoff." And you can't help being impressed by the loving attention to detail, but alas, a few things gave it away: "Apple never writes 'Apple Store' on it's signs - it just puts up the glowing, iconic fruit." But it's her questioning of the employees that really make the story surreal:

Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple. I tried to imagine the training that they went to when they were hired, in which they were pitched some big speech about how they were working for this innovative, global company...

Apparently, there are only a couple of bona fide Apple stores in Shanghai and Beijing that have just recently opened. ZDNet's Larry Dignan used this tale of the fake store to take a serious look at Apple's Chinese strategy in "Apple rocks China: Can it outrun counterfeiters?"

More Apple news:

Jobs: Apple succession plans are 'hogwash' (The Register)