10/9/2008 11:22:00 AM
Nokia faces threat from counterfeit manufacturers
Nokia faces a new fight as counterfeit manufacturers up the quality of their replica devices in time for the launch of the manufacturer’s most expensive phones.
Distributors and dealers who have seen the latest fakes have raised their concerns about the difficulty of telling them apart from the originals.
The most recent fakes to surface are the £700 Nokia Arte Sapphire and the new £500 Nokia N96 which, according to sources, are already ‘flooding the market’.
Counterfeit models of both phones are being sold for £200 to UK dealers.
One retailer told Mobile: ‘The fakes are amazing – there is no way I could tell they are not real and I have been in this industry for 10 years. The menu systems are identical, and they have the same ringtones.’
Concerns are centred on distributors mixing counterfeit stock with genuine products to reduce their prices and/or increase their average margins. Even store staff at the big retail chains have been alarmed by the quality of the new fakes.
One staffer at a major retail chain said: ‘Customers have started coming into the store to take out a contract, and then returned it a few days later. But they’ve swapped it with a fake, and kept the original. It is very difficult for us to tell.’
The fakes have already hit eBay this week, with several N96 and Sapphire Arte handsets selling for way below the market price for originals.
The majority of the counterfeit Nokia phones are understood to be arriving from the notorious ‘dragon market’ in Dubai – described as ‘the biggest trading port for Chinese traders outside China’.
Nokia MD Simon Ainslie told Mobile: ‘We take [counterfeit products] very seriously. Copied phones still exist and our intellectual property team are always investigating them.’
One distributor MD who wished not to be named said: ‘I know Nokia are so hot on protecting their brand, you don’t want them crawling all over you, investigating your business. There is a genuine problem here when buying grey, unless you deal with Nokia-approved partners.’