The unusual demand for its iPhone 5 and the thriving grey market where sellers make huge profits by re-selling them in main China had forced Apple Inc.(NASDAQ:AAPL) to resort to a lottery system of selling its new phones in Hong Kong.
Customers wishing to buy the new iPhone have to send in an online application one day before purchasing it. Those who get a confirmation mail would be eligible to buy a maximum of two phones in Apples stores in Hong Kong.
With the introduction of the lottery system the queues outside stores where the Apple iPhone is being sold have also been shorter.
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The other effect of the lottery system and the limited supply of the phones has been a sharp rise in the prices of the phones in the grey market.
According to local reports scalpers purchased the new iPhone 16G--which is priced HK$5,588 (US$721) in the Apple retail store--for HK$8,000 (US$1,032) from those who succeeded in buying one through the lottery system. The scalpers will then resell the handset between HK$8,500 (US$1,096) and HK$12,000 (US$1,548).
While Hong Kong is among the countries where Apple was initially launched, China does not figure in the initial batch, though there has been huge demand for the phones in the Chinese market.
Even before the official launch of the iPhone 5, grey market operators in Hong Kong had been smuggling the iPhones from the U.S. and selling it for a stiff premium in the mainland.