iPhone 6 expected to fetch over $3,000 in China's grey market

Grey market dealers in Beijing expect unofficial shipments of the iPhone 6 to start arriving in China this weekend

An iPhone sign at a Beijing electronics mall.

An iPhone sign at a Beijing electronics mall.

Would you pay US$4,000 for an iPhone 6?

For most people, it'll be an unequivocal no. But Beijing electronics dealer Wang Qingyun expects at least a few ultra-rich Chinese will be willing to pay that price over the next few days.

"Chinese people will buy anything," he said, at his mobile phone stall at a Zhongguancun electronics mall in the capital.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus go on sale this Friday in some markets, including the U.S. But Apple's hit product won't officially be arriving in mainland China this week, and the company has yet to say when iPhones might arrive in China.

Grey market electronics dealers in Beijing, however, are already gearing up to sell the devices this weekend. They're relying on unofficial shipments coming from Hong Kong and Australia, where the iPhone 6 just went on sale.

Wang expects initial prices will reach over 20,000 yuan ($3,251) and perhaps up to 25,000 yuan, depending on how many iPhone 6 units actually make it to Beijing. "If it's just a few hundred units, then the price will be high. But if it's several thousand units then the prices will fall," Wang said, adding that the price will continue to decline as the days pass.

Whether or not anyone will actually buy the grey market iPhones is another question. So far, only two customers have reserved a unit with Wang, but demand could possibly grow. China has a lot of "second generation of the rich", he said, referring to the sons and daughters of China's emerging wealthy families.

Apple's iPhone is considered a high-end phone in China, with its official prices often starting at over $700 or $800 when bought with carrier subsidies. The company dropped out of China's top five smartphone vendor ranking in the second quarter, according to research firm Canalys, as more Chinese are buying lower-end phones from vendors such as Xiaomi and Lenovo.

But the Apple brand remains popular in the country, and past iPhone launches in China have drawn huge crowds of eager customers. The U.S. company resorted to using a reservation system to let customers buy the products, after skirmishes erupted outside Apple stores in Beijing.

The delayed arrival of the iPhone 6 will likely be a boon to Beijing's grey market dealers, who said they expected the unofficial shipments to begin arriving as soon as Friday evening. But a few dealers were uncertain whether they could find buyers, or even obtain the device.

"Not many people have reserved so far," said one dealer, who didn't wish to give out his name. "Whether it's good for our business or not, will depend if we can get any units."

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Tags smartphonesAppleiPhonedistributionconsumer electronics

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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