FORTUNE -- Two seemingly contradictory stories made headlines this week.
On Tuesday, a 44-year-old Chinese woman was captured on video being tased and handcuffed in a Nashua, N.H., mall after trying to buy more than her allotted quota of iPhone 5s. According to witnesses she became violently abusive when asked to leave the store, first by Apple (AAPL) management, then by Nashua cops. Her boyfriend denies that she was collecting phones for resale in China, but according to the officers who arrested her she was carrying $16,000 in cash.
On Friday, Apple began selling the iPhone 5 on mainland China, and the few buyers who showed up were outnumbered by reporters. Videos from Beijing Apple Stores show staffers removing crowd control barricades that had been set up the night before but turned out to be superfluous. News of the iPhone's chilly reception in China helped drive Apple's share price to a 10-month low.
Why are Chinese customers lining up to buy the iPhone 5 in the U.S. but not in Beijing or Shanghai?
We've seen a lot of explanations -- from a snowstorm in Beijing to a clunky pre-registration system. But the simplest answer is this: $197.75
That's the difference between the price ($649) of an unlocked 16GB iPhone 5 purchased in New Hampshire (where there is no sales tax) and the price (U.S. $846.25) of the same iPhone purchased in Beijing (where it is heavily taxed). Apparently it's cheaper to pay middlemen to buy an iPhone in the U.S., ship it to Shanghai, and sell it in the mainland's grey markets than it is to pay a Chinese import tax.
The price differential goes up dramatically if you can manage to get an AT&T (T) iPhone purchased with a 2-year contract to work on a Chinese carrier's network. Apple sells those babies for $199. Walmart (WMT) sells 'em for $127.
Supplies are tight, say Shanghai scalpers, but should ease in a week or so
FORTUNE -- "iPad mini price fry the 3000 yuan cattle worried not sell."
That, according to Google Translate, is the headline in The Phoenix, a Chinese language website that covers the Asian tech market.
The thrust of the story is that although the Apple (AAPL) store in Hong Kong is selling 16GB iPad minis for HK$ 2588 ($334), the MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 3, 2012 6:40 AM ET
Why did one survey find 36% first-time iPhone buyers when a second saw half as many?
FORTUNE -- Here's an odd discrepancy.
In a survey of 100 iPhone 5 buyers conducted outside New York City Apple Stores Friday, Topeka Capital found that 36% (the purple slice of the top pie chart at right) were purchasing their first iPhone -- suggesting that more one in three buyers were switching to an iPhone 5 MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 22, 2012 4:23 PM ET
Sluggish demand, says one report. An over-abundance of supply, says another.
Dueling stories Monday in Reuters and the Financial Times about the Chinese gray market for Apple (AAPL) products agree on one thing: The prices the new iPad can fetch have fallen roughly 30% in the past two weeks.
When the latest iPad -- the one with the much-hyped Retina display -- showed up in Beijing the day after its U.S. launch, Chinese MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 26, 2012 6:45 AM ET
Thousands left empty-handed as scalpers rush to feed a hungry gray market
Even with the support of Chinese riot police, police dogs, private security guards and an elaborate grid of metal barricades, Apple (AAPL) could barely contain the chaos when the gates of the Hong Kong Apple Store opened Friday morning and customers began to run up the store's spiral glass staircase.
An Apple-sanctioned queue of roughly 1,250 were allowed to file MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 11, 2011 6:59 AM ET
By Sunday, the new tablets were selling in China for up to 105% over their sticker price
The staff manning the huge crowd that mobbed Apple's (AAPL) Fifth Avenue Store Friday estimate that as many as half the iPads sold that day were being bought for re-sale overseas.
It's a familiar pattern. In September, the New York Times ran an investigative report detailing how Chinese customers were lining up to buy pairs MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 14, 2011 8:02 AM ET
A team of New York Times reporters traces an underground trade route -- in the nick of time
Nick Bilton got this one in just under the wire.
Bilton, the lead tech writer for the Times' Bits Blog, has a fascinating piece on the front page of Thursday's paper that couldn't hold much longer.
With the help of three other reporters, he tells the story of how iPhone 4s manufactured in China and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Sep 23, 2010 5:39 AM ET
Having stirred up a hornet's nest with his first take in the so-called missing iPhones, Bernstein Research's Apple (AAPL) specialist Toni Sacconaghi has taken a second look at the discrepancy between the number of iPhones Apple sold (3.75 million through Dec. 29) and the number AT&T (T) actually activated (just under 2 million through Dec. 31).
His conclusion: most of the devices he describes as "missing in action" are not sitting MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 28, 2008 1:33 PM ET
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