Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Fate of the Android Store in Zhuhai, China

Update at end

More than four months have passed since I first posted about the "Android store" I stumbled upon after I took a random bus trip in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. One issue some people raised was whether its days were numbered due to possible actions from Google. But I assumed that the store, like many unauthorized Apple stores in China, would not face any immediate interference.

Last week I happened to be in Zhuhai, so I returned to its Nanping district to checkup on the now semi-famous store. At first glance, it did not appear much had changed:

Android store in Zhuhai, China
Still there

The inside of the store was also mostly the same as before. One difference was that there were no Apple computers for sale -- only iPads and iPhones were available (see here for earlier photos from inside the store). Another difference also caught my eye. The staff were wearing store shirts:

Employee wearing green store shirt with Android and Apple logos.
She was happy to have her photograph taken.

Back of store shirt.
Sorry, the shirts are not available for purchase.

The Android robot is displayed on the front of the shirt, Apple's logo is on the right sleeve, and Android, Windows Phone, Symbian, and iOS are on the back of the shirt. Given the store's sign, it seems fitting that Android is the most prominently featured brand, even in the shirt's color. It is worth nothing that what appears to be the name of the store on the shirt is the same as the Chinese words which appear underneath the Android logos on the store's main sign.

Although finding that the store still existed did not surprise me, there was something else I was less sure about. Would the store inspire others?

I found the answer at another store just down the street. Here it is as I saw it several months ago:

store with prominent signs for China Unicom and Nokia
One of the many stores in the area with a Nokia sign

But the store has since undergone a bit of a makeover:

Store with China Unicom and Android signs plus some pillars with Apple logos

The large Nokia sign on the outside of the store has been replaced with the Android robot and what is presumably the store's Chinese name (which is similar to the other store's Chinese name and also does not include the Chinese word for "android"). The Nokia sign on the inside of the store has been replaced with a Samsung sign. Another outside face of the store is now partly in the Apple style, but it curiously includes the Android logos on the middle column. However, this mix of Apple and Android may not be so surprising since this same store previously had an ad for the iPhone that included a singing Android robot.

I will refrain from any deep commentary. I simply wanted to share that not only does the original Android store remain, but it appears to have an imitator.

And now I wonder if more will soon appear.

UPDATE: A little over a year later, much had changed. See "The Fate of the Android Store in Zhuhai, China: Part II" for more.

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