Handbags, shoes, iPhones, you name it -- if it’s a popular consumer trend, you can bet China has made a copy of it. As wearable technology like Google Glass and Samsung’s Galaxy Gear was introduced and heavily hyped, knock-off versions were expected to flood the markets.
But that isn’t the case.
According to a report by CNN, China’s tech counterfeiters, known to have cheap versions of the hottest and trendiest items, aren’t buying into the new wearable-gadget trend, at least not yet. “There are no copies for sale. Only originals,” one managing director at a wholesale electronics company in Shenzhen said. “Maybe we’ll have them [fakes] in a few months. I don’t know, interest is low.”
While pirated versions of popular tech items, like the iPhone, Galaxy devices and popular headphones and speaker systems, are the bane of companies like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (KRX:005930) and Beats by Dre, at least the companies know they have a popular product on their hands. Battling to stop Chinese pirates over copyright is a greater sign of success than battling for people to pay attention to the product, after all. At least in China, the interest in wearable technology -- specifically the more commercially attainable Galaxy Gear smart watch as opposed to Glass, the wearable computer by Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) -- is quiet. The report mentions a shop in Shenzhen, a factory town in China’s Pearl River Delta, in a commercial district known to be one of the centers for tech fakes, where the watches were nowhere to be found. “You won’t find any copies of the smart watch here,” a young man moving boxes said. “I’ve never seen or heard of any.”
“I’ve never seen a knock-off Gear in this whole town,” another shopkeeper, this time a young woman selling a whole store of Samsung goods, said. Her shop sells the real smartwatch device, but she added, “they don’t sell well.” Another shop owner explains that consumer demand is what drives counterfeiters, not the other way around. “[Counterfeiters] don’t care about the Gear as a consumer demand is too weak … it was not popular.”
Perhaps this has been a marketing flaw on Samsung’s part. The watch, which was unveiled last September and runs at about $300, failed to excite tech observers, critics and users around the world, and the company has already announced it will be taking a stab at it again, with a Galaxy Gear 2 product.