The Fake Apple Stores of Xian

by Michael

We’re working on getting our posts ready about our visits to Beijing and Xian, China, but in the meantime I thought I’d post about an interesting phenomenon I noticed walking around Xian (otherwise famous as the home of the terracota warriors).

Before visiting China, I was aware that there are a number of the counterfeit Apple Stores in the country. If you are not familiar, these are not stores with counterfeit goods. The whole store is a fake, made to look like an Apple Store. Allegedly the products in the store are Apple products, though by some accounts the products are illegally imported from Hong Kong. There is a great short video about it here.

The existence of these stores became big news when blogger A Bird Abroad (now blogging as This Woman’s Work) posted about them. Her original post concerned the Apple stores in Kunming (Southern China, near Laos and Myanmar). Her story was picked up by the New York Times, and received feedback and did an updated post about stores all over, including a big one in Xian.

This was all in 2011. According to Apple’s website, there are still no real Apple stores in Xian:

apple-search

See! No “Apple Store” in Xian.

That doesn’t mean that you wont see plenty of “Apple” Stores in Xian.  Based on our visit, they actually appear to be more prevalent than Starbucks.  In one place, you can actually see a fake Apple store from another fake Apple store.

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From the outside steps of this “Apple Store” …

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… this is your view. Not a great picture, but you can see the other “Apple Store.” But wait, there’s more…

We counted no less than four Apple Stores on a single block near the Drum Tower. But the real highlight was a two-level store in the city center. It had the iconic glass staircase, white tables, and even a life size wax model of Steve Jobs in the window.

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Steve Jobs is alive and well in a store in Xian.

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Even the glass stairs!

It feels a bit surreal. I’m curious how much longer it will last (and how there could possibly be enough business to support multiple stores on the same block).

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