Enlarge / These AirPods, displayed on the Apple Park Customer Heart in Cupertino, are real—however recognizing the distinction between actual and counterfeit electronics is not all the time easy.

US Customs and Border Safety reports that up to now in fiscal yr 2021, it has seized about 360,000 units of wi-fi headphones, value an estimated $62.2 million. That is solely 9 months’ value of seizures—but it surely’s already greater than the 290,000 units value $61.7 million that had been seized all through fiscal yr 2020.

In a single such giant seizure, CBP seized roughly 6,400 counterfeit AirPods and AirPods Professional in Cincinnati, Ohio, on July eleventh. If the seized items had been real, their mixed Apple MSRP would have been about $1.3 million—however the 5 seized shipments had been manifested at solely $312 every. All 5 shipments had been headed for a single tackle in Brownsville, Texas.

Then once more, the feds might not all the time get it proper. In September 2020, CBP in New York Metropolis seized a 2,000 unit cargo of completely authentic OnePlus earbuds headed for Nevada, claiming they had been “counterfeit AirPods.” When pressed concerning the error, CBP doubled down, saying that an organization “doesn’t should put an ‘Apple’ wordmark or design on their merchandise” to violate trademark legislation and including that importers “have many alternatives… to offer proof that their product doesn’t violate the related recorded logos.”

Not all counterfeiters goal Apple, after all—well-known manufacturers equivalent to Sony, Jabra, Samsung, and Bose have their very own knockoff artists. However regardless of its premium model place, Apple holds the lion’s share of the wi-fi earbud market. In 2020, Apple held 25% of the “good private audio” market share—practically triple that of Samsung, its closest competitor. That market share added as much as practically 109 million models—and, in keeping with market evaluation agency Canalys, $16 billion or extra in income.

Roughly 80% of the world’s counterfeit client items come from China, according to the Counterfeit Report‘s Craig Crosby. In late 2016, Apple purchased 100 supposedly Apple-made merchandise on Amazon and located that 90% of them had been counterfeits—regardless of coming immediately from Amazon, not from third-party listings. Through the ensuing lawsuit, Amazon notified Apple that the counterfeit merchandise had been equipped by Cell Star, regardless of the copious use of Apple branding.

Though among the counterfeit items are apparent rip-offs, some require bodily disassembly and skilled product information to determine. Reuse of stolen manufacturing facility molds is widespread, and a few counterfeit AirPods correctly mimic the pairing course of with iPhones and even show correct Apple serial numbers.

Sadly, “comparable look” doesn’t suggest “comparable high quality”—it is rather more tough to identify subpar audio drivers and amplification circuits than a barely off-color or misshapen chassis. Shoppers must be involved with security, as effectively; Amazon product evaluations of counterfeit chargers usually embrace tales of the phony components overheating, smoldering, and even burning outright throughout regular use.

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