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Apple taunts Proview with new store plans

Job ads point to Shenzhen and Chengdu stores

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Apple looks set to inflame its already tense relationship with IPAD trademark rival Proview by opening a retail store in its home town of Shenzhen, as well as a separate outlet in the western city of Chengdu.

The shiny toy maker was invited by Chengdu mayor Ge Honglin to open a store in the city, the capital of Sichuan province, according to China Daily.

Shi Lei, head of the Chengdu Investment Promotion Commission, told the paper that Apple has visited several sites, with those on the shortlist including buildings in Wharf Chengdu International, Financial City, Resources Vientiane City and Kaide Raffles Square.

Meanwhile, Reuters confirmed with a local government official in Shenzhen that Apple is in the final stage of gaining approval for a store in the southern city’s Nanshan district.

Given the early stages which both are at, it’s unlikely we’ll see a new store in either location before next year, although Cupertino has been recruiting for various blue-shirted retail assistant roles in the two cities as of 28 May, which would appear to be a bit of a giveaway.

Apple, needless to say, couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

The firm currently has five stores in mainland China, three in Shanghai and two in Beijing, with another, the world’s largest, set to open in the eastern city of Dalian later this year.

The logic behind expanding its bricks and mortar retail presence in China is pretty straightforward, given the huge appetite for fondleslabs and iPhones in the People’s Republic – which boasts the planet’s largest web-connected population and smartphone market.

However, one spanner in the works could be failed monitor biz Proview International, whose Shenzhen-based Proview Technology business still technically holds the IPAD trademark for China, pending the outcome of an appeal by Apple which the judges are currently considering.

The two parties are apparently still in negotiations for a settlement, but if none is reached then Proview will almost certainly try to prevent Apple from selling its fondleslabs, at least in Shenzhen, until the judges reach their decision.

Apple has still yet to announce a release date for its latest iPad in mainland China, although the slab has gone on sale in neighbouring Hong Kong and Macao, no doubt hoping to wrap up its business with Proview first.

Shenzhen and Chengdu are, of course, already big centres of manufacturing for Apple, with enormous Foxconn plants in both citites.

On Monday, as many as a thousand Foxconn employees living on site rioted for several hours after security guards were called to one of the male dormitories to stop an alleged thief, according to Taiwan-based news site WantChinaTimes.

Hundreds of police were eventually called in to get the riot under control in an incident which seems to show pretty clearly that all is still not rosy at the factories despite a recent deal between Apple, Foxconn and the Fair Labour Association. ®

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