Great piece doing the rounds in the news yesterday was by a young American living in the remote town of Kunming in central China. The story starts with what looks like a report on one of the new Apple stores opening up across Asia. Only later does it transpire that this shop along with possibly all the merchandise is actually a complete fake. From the Apple interior we are all familiar with, to the staff with their blue T-shirts and neck badges, it is one of the most blatant examples of copyright infringement you are ever going to see.
I did a piece before on the merits of big business allowing piracy with their products to help build growth in their brand, but at least when someone gets a free copy of Microsoft Windows they are actually getting the Microsoft product. Whereas in this case not only is the shop a fraud but so too could be the product being sold. This could cause untold damage to Apple’s reputation especially if corners have been cut in their manufacture and issues with power supplies, batteries or anything else that could cause harm fails.
Surprisingly Apple has not commented on this, meaning they are probably more than aware of the issue. While their products globally are ‘Designed in California’ they are ‘Assembled in China’ meaning the most likely source of the counterfeit goods are the genuine factories churning out the hardware. I have also heard stories of companies having to give Chinese officials detailed explanations as to the manufacture of their product, which I am sure could also make its way to entrepreneurial factories.
So what should Apple do? Personally I would look to move all manufacture out of China and back to the US. I can’t believe that a fully automated plant in the US working at the volumes Apple demand can’t deliver similar costs. The only issue is getting hold of all the individual parts which are too probably made in China. For me though I would see value in a product designed and built in the US even if it did cost a few pounds more, it isn’t as if Apple is cheap to start with.