Is it any surprise China has shut down the faux-Apple stores which weren't a problem until a Western blogger spotted them? It streamrolled from there and picked up tranction worldwide. The real reason they've been shut down isn't likely to be China's strict rules on copyright, is it? Nope, the powerhouse is currying favour with Apple, and Apple investment means lots of dosh.
At the moment, China Unicom is the only operator which is licensed to sell Apple kit. China's no.1 carrier China Mobile and no. 3 China Telecom will be en route to stock the gadgets soon, according to analysts speaking to Reuters.
As Apple figures out that large parts of China's market is very different to how the West operates, it will need to find an in-road into flooding the populous with its devices. At the moment, an iPhone 4 or an iPad is seen as something of a status symbol, but that is because they are still expensive. The world's mobile smartphone market will increasingly head towards access for all, not some...
Apple is rumoured to be considering this with a budget handset. It'd make sense.
Just because smartphones account for little of the emerging market right now doesn't mean the demand isn't there. HTC has already understood it needs to conquer China, and we assume Apple - with an already very well-received brand in the region - will not be thinking too differently.
A possibility is stripped down versions of its devices. Competitive pricepoints would be absolutely necessary to compete with the likes of Huawei and ZTE, which already enjoy phenomenal success on their native stamping ground.
There is a chance, then, that shutting down the Kunming "Apple" stores doesn't represent China's mission on brand or copyright protection. Instead, it tells Apple that it can safely invest and face no competition. Until more crop up, unnoticed, and a Western blogger eventually takes a snap.