If you ever wondered just how fast China's iPhone scalpers are, consider this: the iPhone 5 was released on Friday morning in Hong Kong. By Friday evening, the device was on sale in shops in Zhongguancun, Beijing's tech district.
Of course, that shouldn't be much surprise to anyone; a mad dash to the airport, a quick plane flight, and a hurried cab ride to the far side of Beijing is a small effort to put in for the kind of profits gray market phone scalpers are posting right now. The device, which costs about $720 in Hong Kong, is being sold for between $1050 and $1333 on the mainland. We know Hong Kong residents aren't happy seeing their public transit clogged with scalpers, but at more than $600 of profit per device, who can blame them? That's more pure profit than Apple itself makes!
If you're wondering whether there are any iPhones left for actual Hong Kongers, the answer might be no. According to a research report by Forrester, around 70 percent of Apple products sold in Hong Kong end up for sale again in mainland China. But MIC Gadget reports that Hong Kongers are making solid profits off the devices as well, even reselling them to scalpers who then smuggle them into China for another resale.
Of course the reason for the madness is that iPhones won't be officially available in China for at least a few months. As per China's laws, the phone will need to be cleared for access to China's wireless networks by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) before it can be sold in the country. This year though, Apple's new Maps app -- already the subject of much derision -- will also need inspection. Because its map data is provided by AutoNavi, a Chinese company, we don't expect it will face any serious delays as a result, but the process takes at least a couple months. Those who want a shiny new iPhone 5 before everyone else are going to have to pay dearly for the privilege. [Image via Sina Tech]