China fakes beg for attention as Apple's iPad goes global

Fri May 28, 2010 9:32am EDT
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By Melanie Lee

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Chinese pirates hawking a new crop of Apple Inc iPad knock-offs are hoping the real product's global launch will provide much-needed publicity for their slow-selling wares.

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 new iPad 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.

The iPad 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.

Pirates hope to capitalize on their lower prices and earlier availability to woo Chinese customers, but have met limited success so far.   Continued...

<p>A shop assistant (L) displays an iPad at an electronic products store in Hefei, Anhui province May 28, 2010. Apple has yet to announce a launch date for mainland China, which could prove a much more difficult market to profit from. The iPad sells for about 4998 yuan (about $731). REUTERS/Stringer</p>