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Latest iPhone to hit China's gray market on US launch date

By Tuo Yannan and Shen Jingting  (China Daily)

07:52, September 14, 2012

The iPhone 5 on display after its introduction during Apple Inc's iPhone media event in San Francisco, California, Sept 12, 2012. [Photo/Xinhua]

After Apple Inc unveiled its latest smartphone — the iPhone 5 — in the United States on Wednesday, Chinese gray-market dealers didn't waste any time preparing to get their hands on the already popular handset.

Because the company, once again, didn't put the Chinese mainland into its first group of countries and regions to sell its new product, dealers in the Chinese market are looking at other ways to get their customers the new phone.

According to Apple, the iPhone 5 will be available in the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK on Sept 21, and 22 more countries — but not the mainland — on Sept 28.

However, dealers at Beijing's biggest electronic market, Zhongguancun, promised their customers that they can fill their stores with iPhone 5s as soon as the product debuts.

"Zhongguancun will have many iPhone 5s on Sept 22, even though the price in the first two days will be extremely high," said Sun Xing, a 30-year-old shop owner in the area.

Sun's small shop is in the basement of one of Zhongguancun's electronic shopping malls — a small business where it's hard to believe that a dirty, tiny store can sell more than 30,000 yuan worth of Apple products every day.

According to shop owners in Zhongguancun, the price of an iPhone 5 on the first day it's available will be as high as 10,000 yuan ($1,580).

In the second quarter of this year, 86 million phones were sold in China, and 51 percent were smartphones, according to the US-based research company IDC.

"This year China's smartphone shipment will reach 185 million units with more than 300 million users," said Kitty Fok, vice-president of IDC Asia-Pacific.

Tempted by such a large market, even overseas Chinese people are trying to get a piece of the action. A seller in China's e-commerce website Taobao.com named "Ming Ming", who emigrated to Canada a few years ago with her family, started to offer pre-ordered iPhone 5 online.

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