The iPhone 4S – the hottest gadget in town in Hong Kong

Demand for the iPhone 4S has reached fever pitch in Hong Kong. So many have been trying to buy the latest Apple device from its stores that they have been forced to limit sales to online orders. Yet because of reports surrounding a shortage iPhone 4S contracts, not only do people want to buy it they are also hoping to make some money from it as well.

The iPhone 4S is listed for on average HK$ 5,088, around £416. However some are paying up to 30% more than that, up to HK$6,680 almost £450. The reason is almost a case of Chinese whispers. Fears the handset is in short supply have contributed, so many smaller stores have pushed up their prices, emphasising the desirability of the handset. Others pay the inflated prices over worries that they may get conned into buying an Apple handset that is not an iPhone 4S. The new handset, although featuring subtle differences, does look a lot like the iPhone 4.

One report, in China Daily says that in one mobile phone market in Hong Kong many of the stores carry signs either saying they will pay a high price for an iPhone 4S, or that they have them in stock. Nowhere, though, do they mention prices.

It reflects the ongoing enthusiasm for Apple devices in Hong Kong. The iPhone 4S launched there in early November. On the night of the launch there were 5,000 iPhone 4S devices in the main International Finance Centre, or IFC store where the main Apple shop is. Over 100,000 people queued to get their hands on the new device. Headlines were made as fights broke out and police were called to separate angry Apple customers.

However, some of those who managed to buy a device quickly resold it to dealers for a much higher price. Apple closed the store the same day blaming the chaos and issued a statement saying they would not be selling the iPhone 4S to anymore walk in customers, instead those interested would have to register first or order online. Sales were limited to two per person. Even despite their restrictions, the store sold out of iPhone 4S devices two days later. On their online store the message next to the iPhone 4S still says it is currently unavailable.

Hong Kong was part of the third phase of the iPhone 4S launch. In the gap between its launch in the UK and the US, demand raged on the black market. It has continued in China, where the device is not expected to launch until mid-December, meaning Hong Kong has become a conduit for Apple devices and the market in China. One retailer estimated they had sold around 1,000 black market iPhone 4S’ before its official launch in the country. Those selling the devices at inflated prices are banking on Apple not re-stocking the device but at some point they will and the re-sellers will be left with expensive handsets that they might not be able to sell on.

Apple would obviously not be pleased to see its devices on the black market but the hysteria surrounding the iPhone 4S in Hong Kong clearly shows demand for Apple phone deals in Asia remains high. China is still a major target for Apple as they have tagged it as an area for growth. As soon as more devices become available it is likely demand will increase even further.

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