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Chinese go online to buy latest iPhone

By Tuo Yannan (China Daily)

13:20, September 13, 2012

Apple Inc's popular handset iPhone 5 was scheduled to be released on Wednesday in the United States. [Photo/China Daily]

It's that time again — another new Apple Inc product launch, when buyers all over China face the challenge of working out the best way to get their hands on one, in the cheapest and quickest way possible.

When the iPhone 4 was launched, it arrived in Beijing three months late; the new iPad was 120 days late.

But even before the latest iPhone 5 was due to debut in selected stores around the world on Wednesday, customers in China have already been able to book them over the Internet.

As soon as the US-based electronic giant announced it will release its handset iPhone 5 on Wednesday in the United States, Chinese vendors started to dump old versions of the iPhones, in preparation for sales of the new one.

The price of an iPhone 4S in this classic gray market — where sales of old versions of a product can also often provide a good indication of demand for a new product — has dropped about 1,000 yuan ($158.50) in the last few weeks in Beijing's Zhongguancun electronics market, said one vendor, Li Lianhai.

In his tiny 14-square-meter store, iPhones and iPads are piled up to the ceiling.

"The price of the 32-gigabyte iPhone 4S has dropped from 5,200 yuan three weeks ago to 4,500 yuan, because vendors are afraid they'll have trouble unloading their stocks of them following the release of the iPhone 5," Li said.

Online, China's biggest e-commerce website already has sellers posting adverts for iPhone 5s for customers to pre-order.

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