Apple 2.0

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Video: Why the new iPad launch drew such short lines in China

July 20, 2012: 8:14 AM ET

Reuters' Jon Gordon, tracking some iPad smugglers from Hong Kong, has a theory

Smuggling iPads into mainland China. Image: Reuters

FORTUNE -- Compared to the chaos and egg-throwing that greeted the launch of the iPhone 4S in Beijing last January, hardly anyone showed up to buy the new iPad in China when it went on sale early Friday.

Has China's Apple fever finally cooled?

That's possible, but most reports attributed the low turnout and relative calm to the pre-sale reservation system Apple (AAPL) instituted to discourage scalpers. (See, for example, Jon Russell's report in The Next Web.)

Reuters' Jon Gordon went one step further. He hopped on a train and traced the route of the Apple "mules" who have been smuggled new iPads into China since March at an estimated rate of 1,500 per day.

Below: The 2:24 minute video report Gordon filed on YouTube.

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Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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