Mysterious 'Apple Stores' discovered in SW China

Updated: 2011-07-22 06:49


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KUNMING - Although Apple recently revealed its ambitious plan of expanding its retail store network, maybe no one can foresee the swift discovery of three mysterious "Apple Stores" in China's remote southwest.

Mysterious 'Apple Stores' discovered in SW China

Customers are seen in one "Apple Store" in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan province on July 21, 2011. [Photo/CFP] 

The three stores, however, are not listed on Apple's official website.

They were discovered by a traveling blogger named "BirdAbroad," who posted photos and challenged the stores' legitimate status and rights to use Apple's logo.

World media and netizens have closely watched the story since Wednesday, with the overwhelming majority criticizing these stores.

A reporter of Xinhua visited two of the shops Thursday but failed to get answers from their managers or staff to clarify the mystery.

An unidentified young man from the "Apple Store" on Zhengyi Road, wearing an Apple style blue T-shirt with an eye-catching white Apple logo in the front, said all the staff had been instructed to remain silent. He promised there would soon be a press release coming from their company's headquarters.

But the name of the company or person who runs this "Apple Store" was not disclosed. Every detail of decoration features the Apple style and seems to convince customers that "it is from Apple, not from an authorized reseller."

It is noteworthy that the shop on Zhengyi Road is named "Apple Store" in English and "Apple Retail Store" in Chinese. At the four Apple retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai, only the Apple logo is seen at the gate.

There are two types of Apple stores in China. Apple Retail Stores are operated by Apple, while Authorized Resellers are separate companies bearing their own brands.

Liu Zongkun, director of Xinya Wangfujing, one of the two Premium Resellers in Kunming, told Xinhua that the three shops had been in operation for about two months.

She said authorized resellers must follow a set of rules in using Apple's trademark and logo in the shops. "It is Xinya, instead of the Apple logo, which appears in the posters and T-shirts."

Liu particularly pointed out that she had been interviewed by eight groups of journalists in two days.

No response has been made by Apple or the city's market regulator by Thursday night.

Currently, Apple has four Retail Stores in China's mainland -- all in Beijing and Shanghai.

It has been reported that Apple plans to open 33 new retail stores around the world by this September, including the first one in Hong Kong. Previous reports indicated that Apple would build 25 new retail stores in China by the end of 2012.

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