A conundrum that is not easily solved. In China an iPhone is a very desirable possession.
At a recommended price of $500 it is totally out of reach of most Chinese who, generally, most seriously want to have the latest flash mobile.
In the West we have many ways of boasting our wealth. Most of them based around our homes to which we frequently invite friends and colleagues. Such visiting is the exception rather than the rule in China.
There, the only way you have of showing your style, your wealth, is by your accoutrements. Initially it used to be the watch and the fountain pen. (In many parts of Asia a fountain pen is still called something like the equivalent of Parker because in 1951 that was the flash pen to have.)
Then it became wrist watches. Now it is mobiles. Later on it will become automobiles although that wave has not yet truly caught on in China.
If you cannot afford to buy an Apple iPhone at $500 you buy the next best thing, a knock-off. This is what happened in watches — there must be far more fake Rolexes in the world than genuine. It is just the pattern repeated.
Here you see an advertisement for the Hi-Phone, a fake iPhone that is being sold in China.
You are assured it is just as good. Perhaps, it is suggested, better.
Xiong Ting, a sales manager at Triquint Semiconductor, a maker of mobile phone parts, while visiting Shenzhen, said, ‘Five years ago, there were no counterfeit phones. You needed a design house. You needed software guys. You needed hardware design. But now, a company with five guys can do it. Within 100 miles of here, you can find all your suppliers.’
The New York Times reports the industry got its major boost in 2007, when regulators said companies no longer needed a license to manufacture a cellphone.
Tapping into the supply chains of big brands is easy, producers say. Zhang Haizhen, who recently ran a shanzhai (knock-off) company here said, ‘It’s really common for factories to do a night shift for other companies. No one will refuse an order if it is over 5,000 mobile phones.’
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