China is known as the biggest knock-off market. Consumers in China buy fake brand-name handbags, watches, cell phones, clothes and just about everything that can be copied. Counterfeiting in China has apparently reached a new level. Chinese consumers, young in particular, start to buy fake “Sent from my iPhone” and “Sign in from my iPhone” signature lines – words showing up on social networks that make others believe you actually own a real iPhone.
Such iPhone signature services are mostly for QQ (China’s biggest IM service) and Sina Weibo/Sohu Weibo/Tencent Weibo (China’s Twitter-like services). How does it work? Send in your QQ or weibo login plus passwords to the service provider, and when you are offline, the service provider will log in for you using apps on his/her iPhone, then the words “Sign in from my iPhone” will appear next to your avatar for your entire network to see. Most iPhone signature services promise 24/7 connection, as stated in one Taobao ad, “When you are off, we are on. When you are on, we are off. Seamless transition guaranteed.”
Usually an iPhone signature service provider has 10 to 20 iPhones or several QQ/weibo apps and charge 1 yuan for a 2-day service. There are also monthly packages, 6-month packages and 12-month packages for 5 yuan per month. Needless to say, in a country where the majority of people buy brand-name products as a sign of status, the service is popular – hundreds have been sold.
For many consumers in China, the only reason of buying an iPhone is to show their friends that they have one. Now if everybody on their friend list sees that they are “signing in from iPhone”, there is no point in owning the actual phone any more. Marketing messages from iPhone signature services speak very well to the minds of these consumers:
“Iphone signature, it is the sign of your respectable identity. iPhone signature, only 2 yuan and you are one of the high society. iPhone signature, with it, you are the most in and most hot.”
”Sign in from my iPhone” – Your friend is showing off his new iPhone again. But you cannot afford one. So all you can do is to watch with jealousy? The answer is no!”
“Confidence lost in front of a 4999-yuan iPhone regained in the online world.”
According to an interview by Mydrivers.com (a popular electronics BBS), an iPhone signature service provider commented, “Two of my customers don’t feel like buying a real iPhone after using my service. They have experienced what owning an iPhone was like and it didn’t feel as good as they expected.” And apparently fake iPhone signature lines bring not only vanity, but also real benefits.
“Many of my friends find it much easier to hook up with strangers with the iPhone signature line beside their avatars. Usually they are only able to hook up with 1 to 2 people per night, now with the iPhone signature line, more than a dozen are saying hey on QQ.”
A simple search of “How can I make my QQ to show ‘Sign in from my iPhone’?” on Google returned 24,600,000 results. More interestingly, it is clear that the market for such services is larger than those who cannot afford an iPhone or smartphones with internet capacities – everybody wants the iPhone signature line. Among top ten results are:
And…even iPhone users. Yes, actual iPhone users. Many social networks in China don’t automatically show the default signature line from iPhone, and that is a very big headache for iPhone users in China.
Read more on Chinese consumers buying fake luxury packaging bags – paper or plastic bags that make people think you’ve been shopping in the real Louis Vuitton or Chanel stores.