Apple site out of phones

08:50, November 01, 2010      

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Apple Inc's new online Chinese-language store was a big hit with consumers Wednesday after it sold out its entire stock of iPhone 4s on the first day.

The new cyberspace-based outlet is expected to help Apple gain more smart-phone market share and counter smuggled phone sales, a market watcher said Thursday.

That's not chump change as China's resilient and fast-growing online shopping market boasted transaction value of 120 billion yuan ($17.91 billion) in the third quarter alone, said Ji Chendong, a technology consultant with Frost & Sullivan, a consulting firm.

While the online store may divert some customers from Apple distributor China Unicom, the impact on the telecom operator is limited as it sells only phones bundled with its services, whereas Apple stores sell phones with no strings attached, said Frost & Sullivan's Ji.

The new online store is expected to help Apple ward off rampant iPhone gray market sales, thereby enlarging its market share, he said.

"A lot of my friends want to buy an original iPhone 4 and not a smuggled one because of quality concerns," an iPhone 4 user Wang Shaonan told the Global Times.

The iPhone commanded a 5.8 percent market share in the third quarter and that figure is expected to reach 6.3 percent by the fourth quarter.

Due to huge demand and limited supplies, smuggled iPhone 4 are often sold at prices even higher than the official version.

On the new Chinese site, consumers can find Apple application software and high-tech gadgets including the iPhone 4 and the iPad.

The California-based company will also throw in free shipping and personalized engraving on any iPod or iPad, with just a few extra clicks of the mouse.

The site accepts debit cards, third-party payment service provider Alipay, and credit cards. Apple said it would deliver iPhone 4 orders already in the pipeline within 1-2 week's time.

But after the sellout, no new orders are being accepted. "We are out of stock for the moment," a customer service representative with the online store told the Global Times Thursday.

Apple China Spokesperson Carolyn Wu urged customers to check back with their local store or online for updates on availability.

Meanwhile, Apple is promising the popular iPad is in stock and can be delivered within 24 hours.

Source: Global Times


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