Apple Computer, the global technology force, is finding that the formerly Soviet Republic of Georgia is a haven for copycat artists. But some Georgian high-tech experts contend that having unauthorized dealers in Tbilisi works to Apple’s advantage by boosting its brand recognition.
According to the company’s website, Georgia has only three authorized dealers of Apple products – and no authorized iPhone seller. But that has not stopped shops in the Georgian capital Tbilisi from imitating the look-and-feel of an official Apple store, right down to the employee uniforms.
With a chain of six shops expected in Tbilisi by the end of this summer, iPhone + is the most prominent example of this trend. On a recent weekday morning, customers at the store’s upscale Vake location maneuvered around piles of Apple boxes as blue-shirted workers stocked shelves lined with iPhones and iPods while fielding technical questions from potential purchasers.
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Molly Corso is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.