Counterfeit computer tablets are crowding the market and may lead consumers to buy an inferior product, according to a new report by OpSec Security Inc. that examined the prevalence of counterfeit tablets listed on popular business-to-business trade boards.
E-commerce sites like Alibaba, DHgate, EC21, Made-in-China and TradeKey often provide anonymous yet attractive venues for counterfeiters to sell illicit goods in bulk at suspiciously low prices.
Tablets can be fun and even useful as business tools, but buying an inferior knock-off may not be so much fun. So buyers should beware of counterfeit tablets which are not likely to benefit from manufacturer help if things go wrong.
Key findings from this industry snapshot include:
- Listings for Motorola’s Xoom tablet contained an average of 85,000 units per month. Given the average retail cost of the Xoom at $399, this represents a loss of over $33 million to the brand and marketplace as a whole. One such listing offers the Xoom for under $100 with the product’s photo displaying icons unique to Apple products, indicating that the product is misrepresented and should be considered suspicious.
- The Samsung Galaxy tablet is another popular choice for counterfeiters to target. At an average retail price of $580 per unit, the total retail value of a typical listing was estimated at $69.6 million, an indication of significant potential sales loss for the actual brand. Examples of suspicious listings include photos of tablets that are similar to the design but upon further inspection, do not include the markings of the brand manufactured tablet. Additionally, the listing here shows images of the factory where employees are producing large quantities of the product.
- Listings for the Archos Tablet offered an average of 26,000 units per month with most of the product images not showing the actual tablet. Instead, grainy images of a tablet missing the Archos trademark are presented.
- Many of the listings include photos of legitimate products, while others, like this listing for the Amazon Kindle, are clear knock-offs. Counterfeit sellers will advertise under a brand or trademarked name hoping to make the connection between their illegal product and the real thing.
“Our analysis and experience in this market space point to the belief that tablet technologies are likely to be threatened by counterfeiters. Whether it’s through clever manipulation of photos on auction sites or simply a ‘too good to be true’ bargain, many consumers may fall prey to these scammers if not properly educated,” said Tom Taylor, president, Brand Protection, OpSec Security.
“Given the number of new tablet technologies projected to debut at CES, it’s likely we will see an uptick in counterfeit tablets within weeks of the show.”
OpSec has always strived to better educate consumers on the dangers of counterfeiting and how to safeguard themselves from unknowingly purchasing substandard and potentially harmful products. With Forrester predicting that tablets will outsell Netbooks this year, OpSec offers the following advice for consumers to detect fakes tablets and avoid getting scammed:
- Is the price too good to be true? Counterfeit tablets may be sold for less – sometimes for a third or half of the retail price. A tablet sold at heavy discount is unlikely to be the real deal. Many online resellers utilize auction websites to dupe consumers eager to obtain a bargain on the latest models. The best approach is to purchase electronics in person or directly from the manufacturer or authorized reseller online.
- Does it look real? Knowing the colors, features, and size of the tablet can help eliminate the chances of purchasing a fake. If the tablet comes in a color that was not produced by the manufacturer or has not yet been released, this is a good indicator of a counterfeit product. Visiting the manufacturer’s website to learn about the design features and technology specifications can help discern real from fake product.
- Is it a legitimate model? Some tablet brands have an extensive list of models. Counterfeiters may attempt to pass off a non-existing model number as an authentic product. Check if the tablet model is sold by the official manufacturer. If it does not exist on the manufacturer’s catalog or website, it is a clear sign that the tablet in question is suspicious.
- Is there a warranty? Most consumer electronics manufacturers provide a limited warranty which covers the product, accessories and software. Typically, the product is covered for one year from date of purchase by the first consumer purchaser of the product. Authorized dealers may also offer an extended warranty. When purchasing your tablet, check that you are covered by warranty service.