Is the Apple Watch a good enough reason for breaking bad? Photo: AMC/Cult of Mac
Lust for Apple’s latest must-have gadget can make you do crazy things!
In what sounds like a cross between Breaking Bad and an Apple ad that I would totally watch, a story coming out China’s government-run Guangzhou Daily newspaper recounts the plight of a 21-year-old accused of orchestrating a crystal meth deal so as to be able to pay for an Apple Watch.
Tim Cook greeting Foxconn workers in China. Photo: Apple
A Chinese workers’ rights group released a new report today that sheds light on the deplorable working conditions in factories that assemble the iPhone 6. According to China Labor Watch, on February 3, 2015, Pegatron assembly line worker Tian Fulei died while assembling the iPhone 6.
The hospital labeled the cause of death as “sudden death,” but fellow workers say Tian worked long overtime shifts day after day, which gave his family reason to believe that Tian died from overwork.
To smooth things over, Pegatron reportedly offered the family a measly $2,400 as compensation for their son’s death. Tian’s family of farmers couldn’t afford to pay for an expensive independent autopsy to prove the death was work-related. Eventually they took Pegatron’s next offer of $1,277 for his untimely death.
Ahead of the Apple Watch going on sale April 24, the Chinese market is being flooded with fake versions of Apple’s wearable device — many of them bearing an uncanny likeness to Apple’s smartwatch, at a fraction of the cost.
Starting at less than $50, the “inspired by Apple” Apple Watch knockoffs are predominantly modelled on the cheaper Apple Watch Sport devices, but I’d be in no way surprised if we saw Apple Watch Edition replicas turn up at a later date, much as we routinely see fake Rolexes today.
Apple couldn’t be more popular in China — among customers, that is!
One out of every four smartphones sold in urban China was an iPhone during the three months ending January 2015, according to sales data from Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. The impressive stats only serve to underline what we’ve been pointing out for upwards of the past year: that China is well on its way to becoming Apple’s biggest market globally.
“Leading into Chinese New Year, Apple iPhone 6 and 6 Plus drove sales to an unprecedented high in urban China with iOS’ share of the smartphone market reaching 25.4 percent – a 4.5 percentage point increase over the same period in 2014’, noted Carolina Milanesi, Kantar’s chief of research.
Apple needs its watch to be big in China. Photo: EastTouch
Ahead of Apple’s March 9 event, the Apple Watch has popped up in another non-tech magazine, boasting some fashion shots of it being worn by a male model. The magazine is East Touch, a Hong Kong-based Cantonese magazine aimed at (predominantly female) readers between the ages of 20-30, and covering mainly celebrity, fashion and entertainment news stories.
This is just the latest fashion publication to feature a look at the Apple Watch, following shortly after the devices was profiled with a multipage spread in the March issue of Vogue.
It is on the more official side of the equation where Apple is struggling, however. In what commentators are calling a response to widespread Western cyber-surveillance, the Chinese government has dropped Apple products from its list of approved state purchases.
West Lake Apple Store in Hangzhou. Photo: Foster + Partners
Apple’s architectural firm, Foster + Partners, released pictures of the gorgeous new West Lake store in Hangzhou that was recently completed. The new Apple Store was covered by an incredible mural during construction, but the finished all-glass facade is even more stunning.
The firm says West Lake store was made in close collaboration between Apple and Foster + Partners’ engineers to create the perfect environment to view products. The end result is a 15-metre-high glazed box with a design that “combines an understanding of the local context with the philosophy of simplicity, beauty and technical innovation that characterises Apple’s products.”
A cookie to the first person who spots the obvious Photoshopping. Photo: Suwen University of Hong Kong
Move over Xiaomi! While it’s easy to claim that China’s biggest smartphone upstart holds the crown for boldest Apple ripoff artist, Xiaomi has nothing on the Suwen University of Hong Kong.
If you haven’t heard of Suwen University, don’t worry: You’re not alone. It’s a fake, selling false diplomas and bachelor’s degrees online through China’s largest shopping website, the Alibaba-owned Taobao.
So what makes this a story about Apple? Well, take a look at the university’s impressive computer science lab, as it appeared in photos posted to the fictitious university’s Facebook page. For those unfamiliar with Hong Kong, it’s a photo of the city’s flagship Apple Store — albeit with a dodgy, Photoshopped logo to replace the instantly recognizable Apple one.
Forget building a quality app; this is the way to score a hit in the App Store. Photo: Weibo
An app manipulation farm sounds like someplace developers would go for a weekend retreat, complete with chiropractor sessions. In fact — according to a photo which has gone viral on social media in China — it’s a place where devs can pay for their apps’ download numbers to be artificially inflated.
Why would anyone want to do this? Simply put: because more downloads (perhaps accompanied by positive reviews) enhances apps’ chart position, thereby raising their discoverability level, and hopefully prompting people to download them.
The photo in question appears to show a worker at one such place, sitting in front of what look like around 100 iPhone 5c units. Reports claim that her job is download, install, and uninstall specific apps repeatedly to boost their App Store rankings. Another similar table can be seen opposite her.
The image is accompanied by a second one, showing the alleged prices being charged to get your app to the top of the App Store rankings. Here’s how much you need to pay to secure a no. 1 rated app for yourself:
Hang on, I’ve just got some dust in my eye! Photo: Apple
One of the most interesting things about Apple’s continued expansion into China is going to be watching how it tweaks its marketing to target a country Tim Cook has claimed will soon be Apple’s biggest market.
Ahead of Chinese New Year on February 19, Apple has debuted a new ad in China, updating it’s warmly-received U.S. ad “The Song” for a new audience. Both ads tell the story of a young woman who uses a combination of their Mac and GarageBand to record a duet featuring their grandmother’s voice from the past.
As with virtually every ad Apple has ever put out, the message is less about technology for its own sake, and more to do with how it can be used to enhance the life of individual users.
You can check out and compare both versions of the ad after the jump: