CHINA

So what if the iPad hasn’t launched in China yet…

While the launch of the iPad in China is continuously postponed - its release has most recently been assured for the end of May - Apple fans in the country, like our Observer Christophe, have so far had no problem getting hold of the genuine tablet computer.

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Our Observer Christophe with his locally purchased, genuine iPad in Beijing.

While the launch of the iPad in China is continuously postponed - its release has most recently been assured for the end of May - Apple fans in the country have so far had no problem getting hold of the genuine tablet computer.

For the past 24 hours, the technophile world has been feasting over the physical leak of an iPhone 4G in the US. But while one iPhone 4G managed to escape before the release date in the US, a mass of genuine iPads have been released onto the Chinese market before the official launch there. You can find them in every window display on the high street, in every major town. So where did these illegal products come from?

“I went to the electronics district in Landao. The iPad was everywhere”

Christophe Rovan runs a French restaurant in Beijing.

As a big Apple fan, I can't wait for a new product to be released. So when the iPad was launched in the US I went to the little shop in the electronics district in Landao in Beijing to have a look. It was everywhere. The one I bought is 32 giga; an authentic from Apple, not like all the fakes that are floating around. It seems to be the first version, the one that works with Wifi. I paid 6,000 yuan for it, around 650 euros, which is more expensive than in the US.

My problem is that the French and Chinese Apple stores don't cater for the iPad yet, so I'm registered with the American Apple store for the time being.

It's not simply that small boutiques are selling the iPad - they are also calling themselves ‘authorised Apple stores' along with the Apple logo. Meanwhile, just down the road, the real Apple store is yet to put it on the shelves.

It often happens that small factories set themselves up next to big company productions. And funnily enough these small factories produce exactly the same product as the one next to them and then sell them on the Chinese market. They're exact replicas of the products produced next door and they're completely illegal. It happened to Danone; in general there's very little to be done and the products remain on the market.

In the case of the iPad, the phones being sold on the Chinese market were probably manufactured here and, despite being destined for the US, some of them fell off the back of the lorry. In China, there are several points at which this can happen: in the factory itself, during cargo, or as a result of people in high places.

Stolen Apple products here, despite being well-respected, are not highly popular with the Chinese. They tend to be sold to expats. The Chinese can find a similar, counterfeit product, for much cheaper."