Smuggling an iPhone 6
How far will smugglers go to get their hands on the iPhone 6 first?
What’s common between a box of Twinkies and an Apple iPhone 6 ? Nothing much, except the fact that the former might’ve been used as a carrier to smuggle the latter into China! If photos showing hordes of people standing, sitting or even sleeping outside iPhone stores, waiting to buy the latest specimen for themselves wasn’t a parameter authentic enough for you, to measure the hype and the demand around this latest phenomena by Apple, the following example should be. As Apple drops it’s iPhone 6 in the phone market, the excitement amongst the tech enthusiasts, is palpable.
Frenzied fans have always been a part and parcel of Apple products. Right from it’s initial days, when buying an apple product was an exercise in measuring your social status, the media and the people’s curiosity around the company is fuelled by any, and every new product that the company launches. And had curiosity been the sincerest form of flattery, China would’ve been the winner. Hands down! But the big question is, does Apple truly fascinate people in China like it used to a few years back? Or, are the frenzied fans just one side of the coin?
Around two years back, a boy from one of the poorest provinces of China, had sold off his kidney in order to buy the iPhone and the iPad. Now, two years later, Apple has once again brought China in news. This time, because of smugglers who are smuggling the latest iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus into the country to meet the demand of impatient Apple connoisseurs.
The process :
Unlike others in the country, who would have to wait till October 17th to purchase the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus legally, smugglers are sneaking in the device by hiding it in Twinkie boxes, coffee tins and even shoe boxes. As a matter of fact, inside just about anything that can accommodate the phone.
They are buying the phones from as far as the United States and Australia and also Hong Kong – the closest city outside mainland China, for the purpose of resale in the country. Hoping to cash in on the media circus around this new Apple prodigy, over enthusiastic Chinese smugglers smuggled in hundreds of iPhone 6 devices into the country, weeks before it’s official release.
Moreover, they paid more than 300$ per phone, hoping to earn a solid amount of profit as well as cover the extra money they paid per piece.
And earn they did! During the initial frenzy, an illegal seller of the device was earning a profit of more than $150 per phone. The more popular colours like gold and grey, were fetching a dealer almost $500 per model. This is, after they are selling the smuggled item at double it’s original price. The current prices of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 plus are$1,900 and $3,250, respectively.
Lukewarm response & Government Crackdown : Dual backlash
Did the smugglers go overboard with their preparations to satiate the needs of the customers? More importantly, did they miscalculate the number of potential buyers? As per the current trends, maybe, in their zeal to earn quick money, the smugglers failed to read the market correctly this time.
The mediocre response of the buyers, amalgamated with the government crackdown, has left the smugglers worried. True, there are and always will be fans of the iPhone series, but this time the number of those who aren’t, seem to have preponderated the number of people who are.
Too much, too soon:
Apparently, over zealous smugglers have overstocked the Chinese market with the iPhone 6, even before it’s official release in the country. And we’re talking about the Chinese market getting overstocked which is actually the largest market in the world for smartphones.
Similar functions, different prices :
Another prime concern for the smugglers as well as Apple, is the emergence of several smartphones from companies like Alcatel, Meizu Technology and Xiaomi, that serve all the functions as the iPhone, but cost half it’s price. This is a phenomena that has gripped not only the Chinese market, but markets across the world as well.
Government crackdown : The last nail In the coffin
One of the primary reasons why the smugglers made hay initially, was because of the fact, that while Apple was able to obtain all it’s proper certifications for iPhone 5 at the time of the launch itself, it was unable to do so this time around. However, according to the recent news, China has agreed to speed up the licensing process for Apple. This piece of information, was perhaps more than enough to dissuade potential buyers, to wait for the legal ones, instead of buying the highly overrated illegal ones.
Another factor that curbed the sale of the smuggled phones was the government’s strict measures to do so. A recent anti corruption drive had already acted as a deterrent, to rich government employees from wallowing in luxuries. Moreover, local authorities worked with the combined forces of the government as well as the customs officials, to come down hard on any and every smuggled item. To avoid the maximum fine of 2 million dollars and seven years of jail time, numerous smugglers have abandoned their goods and fled at the sight of the state officials. Thus, Shanghai airport’s custom officials found more than 800 unclaimed iPhones, while local authorities seized smuggled iPhones worth more than $4,000,000 . And these, are just two of the many instances in which the Chinese government has managed to curtail the smugglers’ attempts.
With the launch date officially fixed on 17th October, the lukewarm response to the smuggled iPhone 6 in China may have heightened the anxiety of Apple, in lieu of their impending performance.
Was the response mediocre because of the over pricing? Or because they doubted the authenticity of the product? Or maybe, the frenzied buyers aren’t that frenzy anymore? Well, 17th October, the d-day, is here today!