They could find the sailing anything but
smooth, however, as increasingly sophisticated Chinese consumers are
seeking the real deal of a product known for its hard-to-copy
performance as much as its easier-to-replicate looks.
This week at an outlet in one of Shanghai's
top computer marts, the owner surnamed Li was trying his best to sell a
clone, called the iRobot, passing it off as the iPad's identical twin.
"It is expensive and it just arrived from
Shenzhen. We haven't sold many of these yet, maybe only two a day," said
a congenial Li, surrounded by an array of Apple-branded products of
unknown origin, including three types of iPhone.
"So far, not many people know about the iPad, but
after the Apple launch a lot of people will want one. If they can't
afford it, they will buy the fake," he said.
officially went global on Friday with launches in Australia, Britain,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and Switzerland. It is set
to come to Hong Kong in June, but no China date has been set yet.
An Apple spokeswoman in Beijing had no
information on when the iPad would be available
in China and no comment on the fake iPads.
hope to capitalize on their lower prices and earlier availability to
woo Chinese customers, but have met limited success so far.
While Li's iRobot costs $400 -- less than
the starting price of $500 for the real iPad -- his
iRobots and other iPad wannabes also come with a range of distinctively
non-Apple traits such as cheap plastic casings, memory card slots and
Such differences, along
with lower performance in factors such as boot up time and ease of use,
are turning off a growing number of potential Chinese customers to the
FAKE OR THE REAL
Zhou Xi, 26, a marketing
executive who already owns an iPhone, said he would buy an authentic iPad or
none at all.
"Look, people who
have tried the real thing don't buy the fakes," said Zhou, a
self-professed Apple lover slickly clad in tight jeans and aviator
shades, as he shopped for a case for his iPhone at one of the mall's
Xiao Yi, a
23-year-old office worker, said she immediately thought of an iPad when
looking for the top prize to give away at an upcoming company dinner.
"I don't know much about Apple and the
brand, but I know it is a new product so I thought it would be
impressive to give away," Yi said browsing through iPhone accessories at
an Apple store at the upmarket electronics mall in Shanghai.
She said she had not decided yet on whether
to settle for a fake iPad instead.
Another shop salesman at the mall said
demand for real iPads was high, with at
least 10 people enquiring about them.
piracy problem is not that significant because of the functionality of
the real one," said Mirae Asset analyst Dean Li. "Apple has strong brand
power. No matter how expensive, Chinese consumers won't care about the
price problems," he said.
all Chinese have bought into the Apple ethos, reflecting the uphill
climb the company and other Western brands continue to face in their
battle against Chinese pirates.
Ling, a 20-year-old sales girl at a shop that claimed to be an
authorized Apple distributer, said all products sold from her store were
authentic, but her own tastes are less discerning.
"I will definitely buy the fake one, the
real one is too expensive, plus it is all the same, only with the fake
your don't have to pay for the apps," she said.