Android may be dominating the Chinese smartphone market, but that doesn’t mean that China isn’t excited about Apple’s next iPhone. In just a few hours, a Taiwanese pop star has attracted over 100,000 comments and reposts on his Sina Weibo microblog with a post containing suspicious-looking photos of a so-called “iPhone 5″.
It’s not uncommon for Jimmy Lin, who has risen to fame in Asia as a singer, actor and race car driver, to receive hundreds of reposts and comments from his 13.5 million followers, but his recent iPhone rumor has struck a chord, attracting more than 80,000 reposts just five hours after being sent.
“Today I confirmed that the iPhone 5 will be longer and have an aluminum back like the iPad,” Lin wrote, as noticed by Sina Tech Hong Kong. “While it has a four-inch screen, it’s thinner, though it feels about the same in the hand. The headphone jack has also been moved to the bottom. As for the dock connector, the iPhone 5 doesn’t use the 30-pin connector, instead changing to a smaller 19-pin connector.”
The post was accompanied by a collage of Lin playing with the device and showing it from multiple angles. Given the irregularities in the font on the back of the phone and its cheap-looking bottom, the device is almost certainly a fake, though it does bear a resemblance to low-quality factory mockups that appear to be cropping up elsewhere. Even so, Lin has benefitted from the increased publicity that has played off the intense interest surrounding the upcoming iPhone.
As home to most of Apple’s supply chain, China is known for being a common originator for leaks, but it’s also notorious for producing fake leaks and tips. The journey between Chinese and English language rumors also frequently causes confusion, as mockups are sometimes mistaken for leaks as they cross from one side to the other. For instance, a concept video for a razor-thin iPhone featuring a laser keyboard and a holographic display went viral in China last year and left quite a few consumers believing it was real.
Sina Weibo’s emergence as one of China’s hottest social networks has also helped feed rumors. The service, which has over 360 million users, now enforces anti-rumor policies in order to comply with governmental pressure after rumors of a military coup circulated on the service earlier this year.
Though some reports suggest that sales of the current-generation iPhone have dropped significantly in China, The next-generation iPhone will likely set new records in the country when it arrives. China is believed to have over 120 million consumers who can afford a smartphone and have yet to buy one. Apple should have significant pent up demand in China, as the majority of prospective customers are on China Mobile, which has yet to officially sell the iPhone.
(hat tip James Hill)