Despite mixed reactions upon its launch, the iPhone 5 has become a hot ticket item and is in short enough supply to have created a market for scalpers on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong.
Scalpers have been reselling the hard-to-get iPhone 5 for up to 3,000 yuan ($480) more than the fixed price set by Apple.
The iPhone 5 was launched in Hong Kong and a number of other countries and regions on Sept 21. Instead of selling the phone on a first-come-first-serve basis, Apple introduced a new policy requiring customers to reserve a phone online using a form of identification, but said they can not promise that all reservations will secure a phone.
The iPhone 5 is expected to be released on the mainland at the end of the year. The delay has created an unmet demand for the phone among mainland customers, a market now being exploited by smugglers and scalpers who are selling the phone in the place of licensed vendors in the fast-growing economy.
The resale prices of an iPhone 5 with 16 gigabytes of storage without a telecom contract ranges from HK$7,600 ($980) to HK$8,600. Apple prices the model at HK$5,588.
Hong Kong residents can reserve up to two iPhones online from 9 am to 5 pm every day. But only a lucky few will receive a notice from Apple telling them they can pick up an iPhone 5 at the store the next day.
The "draw" has been operating for one month, and has become a daily game for many. Though the odds are slim, many people see no harm in investing a few minutes to take a chance with the reservation system.
Matthew, a 27-year-old living in Hong Kong who works in marketing, has sold six iPhone 5s over the past month. His secret is to use as many forms of identification as possible to reserve the phones.
"I have three valid licenses: the Hong Kong ID card, my passport and my Home Visit Permit. So does my father, mother and my brother. So I make 12 reservations every day, each for two iPhones," he told China Daily.
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