The Internet buzz generated by a blogger's revelation of several fake Apple Stores in China seems to have prompted Chinese government officials to look into the matter.
Citing China's Xinhua news agency, The Wall Street Journal reports that an investigation by authorities in Kunming, a city in the southwest of the country, will look into whether the stores in question have proper business licenses and branding permits, and from whom they're getting their goods. (Reuters had reported the investigation previously, also citing Xinhua.)
Earlier this week, a blogger with the handle BirdAbroad posted a story, with pictures, about several elaborate and detailed counterfeit Apple Stores in Kunming, where she says she's lived for a couple of years. The over-the-top knockoffs quickly captured the imagination of the digerati.
The Journal reports that there are thousands of unauthorized resellers of Apple products in China who buy their merchandise from authorized dealers and peddle them at a profit, and that it's not illegal to resell Apple merchandise.
The newspaper also said that the manager of the main store mentioned by BirdAbroad claims that the store has a business license, is operating legally, sells only genuine Apple products at Apple prices, and never claimed to be an authorized Apple dealer. "I am sure we will become their authorized reseller in the near future," the manager reportedly said. "After all, we invested a lot in this store."
Welcome to the Apple store that isn't
Iconic Apple stores around the world (photos)
It's not clear whether Apple, which has two legitimate Apple Stores in Beijing and two in Shanghai, had anything to do with the government's inquiry. The Journal said a company representative declined to comment.
It's also unclear whether Apple CEO Steve Jobs would appreciate the level of investment made by his hitherto unknown Kunming affiliates.
The results of the investigation will be made public soon, Reuters reported.