Working in a Chinese factory doesn’t pay that well. When you can’t afford to buy an iPhone, even though you make 5,000 of them a day, the next best thing is to buy a fake iPhone. And when you can’t pay for a fake iPhone, people in China just pay for a cheap service that makes their friends think they have an iPhone by adding a “Sent From My iPhone” signature at the end of their texts.
According to a recent report from the Financial Times, customers on Taobao – China’s largest consumer-to-consumer online market place – are paying $1 a month for a service that modifies posts so they appear as though they were sent from an iPhone. The service only works on an instant messaging tool called QQ, but QQ happens to be the world’s largest instant messaging tool because like everyone in China uses it.
“The iPhone is too expensive. If you don’t want to spend that money, then fake it!” says the advert of one Shanghai-based vendor.
Most users of QQ are younger, less affluent and less educated consumers, so it’s not a surprise that many of them can’t afford to buy an iPhone. In order to get the fake signature software running users must give merchants their username and password for the hack to work. This raises many questions about what happens to that personal information and whether or not the merchants will use the account information for ulterior purposes.
I sympathize with the Chinese workers who just want to be able afford to purchase one of the beautiful phones they help make. But spending an extra dollar every month for a service you can do yourself is not going to help you get closer to owning an iPhone. Then again, I’m American and we know all about paying for silly things just to maintain appearances.