Blogger sparks worldwide hunt for fake Apple stores

Fri Jul 22, 2011 11:43am EDT
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By Jason Subler

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - An American blogger who stumbled upon a near flawless fake Apple Store in China has become an Internet sensation after her post went viral and triggered a feisty debate about piracy in the world's second largest economy.

The 27-year-old, who goes by the name "BirdAbroad", said her story about the fake store in the southwestern city of Kunming had attracted nearly 1 million hits over the past three days after it caught the imagination of the world's media.

A search on Google showed nearly 1,000 media outlets picked up the story and pictures of the fake store, with the topic one of the most talked-about subjects on Twitter and Chinese Internet sites.

"I originally put the post up not because it was news that Western brands get ripped off in China, but because these Apple stores had taken the fakery up a serious notch to the point where it's practically a work of art in itself," the blogger, who works for an international health organization, told Reuters in an email.

She wrote in the post that she found the store while strolling down a street with her husband a few blocks from their apartment.

Complete with the white Apple logo, wooden tables and cheery staff who appeared to genuinely believe they worked for the iPhone maker, the store looks every bit like Apple Stores found all over the world.

But Apple has no stores in Kunming and only 13 authorized resellers in the city.

"I did actually email the blog post to Steve Jobs when I first put it up, purely for fun. Sufficed to say, he has not responded," said the blogger, who declined to be named.   Continued...

<p>Employees at a fake Apple store use an iPad tablet in Kunming, Yunnan province July 22, 2011. REUTERS/Wong Campion</p>