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China’s ‘fake’ Apple stores thrive ahead of new iPhone launch

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PHUKET MEDIA WATCH

– World news selected by Gazette editors for Phuket’s international community

China’s ‘fake’ Apple stores thrive ahead of new iPhone launch
Phuket Gazette / Reuters


PHUKET: On a bustling street in China’s southern boom town 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, suggesting the U.S. 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.

The latest iteration of the iPhone, featuring larger screens and longer battery life, will only be available on the launch date in China to customers who have reserved online, and the company has said pre-order demand has outstripped supply.

Shenzhen’s unauthorised Apple stores are taking advantage, banking on quick-hit gains from re-selling devices bought via authorised sales channels for as much as double the official price to consumers unwilling to wait weeks for stock to arrive.

The fake stores are also taking pre-orders, but say they will have the new phones from Friday.

Several workers at the stores said they were buying iPhone models in China and in overseas markets such as the United States and Hong Kong, from where they would be smuggled across the border into the mainland.

Apple declined to comment on the proliferation of unauthorised stores in China but said it recommended customers to go to its website and buy products from one of the thousands of authorised dealers across the country.

KNOCK-OFF INDUSTRY

Some analysts said the presence of fake Apple stores could be a good thing for the company as they promote brand awareness in a country that had just 22 Apple stores in the third quarter, with plans to raise that number to 40 by the middle of 2016.

But the widespread unauthorised reselling of even genuine goods can make it harder for companies such as Apple to manage their brands, resulting in potential disruptions to their longer term plans.

Washington has repeatedly pressed China to do more to protect intellectual copyrights in the country, a call reiterated by the White House this week as Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in the United States for a week-long visit.

The fake Apple store model is proving so lucrative it has even spawned a cottage industry servicing such businesses.

Just a stone’s throw from the street of copycat stores, tucked away in a giant tech mall, two shops offer the logos, uniforms, display shelves and shopping bags needed to make an unauthorised outlet feel like a genuine Apple store.

A recent raid by authorities on fake Apple stores has, however, made some cautious. Some shops have blocked signs that read “authorized Apple seller” with promotional banners and covered Apple logos on staff uniforms with stickers, although several vendors said business had not been affected.

Others in the industry said the fake Apple store had become so popular that it was just a matter of time before some shops would be forced to close as the market becomes saturated.

Back at the tech mall, Yang Fei, owner of a shop that helps unauthorized dealers set up specialized cellphone stores, said it might be time for Apple dealers to think about switching to other brands.

“Look at all the shops out there on the street. It would be tough to do the Apple business this year,” she said. “It might be better to do Huawei.”

— Phuket Gazette Editors

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Thailand

Strong surf hits Prachuap Khiri Khan beach

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Strong surf hits Prachuap Khiri Khan beach | The Thaiger
Strong surf in Prachuap Khiri Khan

High waves, peaking at 2 to 4 metres, hit Prachuap Khiri Khan’s coastal beaches, gushing over the breakwater and flooding some spots of the beachside road.

Beachfront shops and restaurants have been temporarily closed while all on-water activities are prohibited in the affected areas. Over 100 fishing boats and small boats have moored in the areas around the Khao Ta Mong Lai Mountains to shelter from the strong winds.

Swimming and other water activities are prohibited at Bang Saphan district’s Ban Krut Beach, one of the province’s most popular tourist destinations, due to the dangerous conditions.

The Prachuap Khiri Khan Governor recently warned coastal residents about the potentially dangerous strong winds.

The Thai Meteorological Department issued warnings yesterday that the strong northeast monsoon that prevailed in the Gulf of Thailand and the South might cause strong winds and high waves.

SOURCE: Matichon Online

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Hua Hin

Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted

Caitlin Ashworth

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Children injured on Hua Hin carnival ride, no safety certification submitted | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Nation Thailand

3 children were injured when a carnival ride malfunctioned at the Hua Hin Red Cross Festival in Prachuap Khiri Khan. The required safety certification was not submitted and local officials are investigating, according to Mayor Nopphon Wutthikul. Carnival rides now are closed for the duration of the festival.

“Preliminary inspection revealed that they had yet to submit safety certification signed by licensed engineers from related government agencies. We will further investigate this matter to find out if there was misconduct by any official.”

The children were on an octopus amusement ride when the hydraulics system failed. Children rode in colourful cars attached to arms that arch and connect to a central axis, resembling the shape of an octopus. The central axis spins and goes up and down.

10 children were on the ride around 10pm Friday when the hydraulics system broke, according to the festival organiser Pannee Klomtheri. A Facebook user made a post saying she saw the ride collapse. Pannee says the injuries are not serious.

“Three children were injured and were sent to Bangkok Hua Hin Hospital with some bruises. Doctors said all the kids are now fine. There was no death caused by the incident.”

Pannee says the octopus ride and other nearby rides will be closed while local officials inspect the site. The festival ends on December 6.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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Drugs

Burmese man busted with 20 kilograms of kratom

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Burmese man busted with 20 kilograms of kratom | The Thaiger

A Myanmar man has been busted with 20 kilograms of kratom after he illegally crossed a natural border into Thailand in the southern Muang district in Prachuap Khiri Khan. Border patrol police and administrative officials were patrolling Ban Hup Phueng, a village near the natural pass on the Myanmar border, when they noticed a man walking with a shoulder bag.

45 year old San Nyunt was then arrested after police found his shoulder bag containing the kratom leaves. Kratom, is a mild narcotic, which has been categorised as an illegal drug in Thailand. San was then charged with illegal entry and possession of illicit drugs.

Such arrests of illegal border crossing have been more prevalent in recent months as the province has stepped up surveillance of the border due to the Covid-10 pandemic.

Source: Bangkok Post

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