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 resellers could get as much as $1,100 for a model that retails for less than $500. Today, according to Reuters, prices like $600 or $700 are more common.
What's going on?
The Financial Times offers two explanations in the form of a pair of quotes:
"People are getting a lot more rational about the iPad now," said Xue Jinpeng, a reseller in Zhongguancun, Beijing's technology district. "They are a lot more willing to wait until prices come down or even until the official launch."
Annie Zeng, a secretary at a foreign insurance company in Shanghai and a confessed Apple fan, said she felt the latest iPad offered nothing new for the higher price.
Reuters, in a considerably more ambitious story that follows the path of iPads bought in San Francisco-area Apple Stores, stuffed in suitcases, shipped by courier to Hong Kong and smuggled by backpack onto the mainland, draws a different conclusion.
It points out that unlike the iPad 2, which went on sale in Hong Kong and Shanghai nearly two months after its U.S. launch, the third-generation iPad was available in quantity in Hong Kong and Shanghai Apple Stores a week after U.S. sales began.
"This whole game is over," a Beijing gray marketer complained to Reuters. "There's an overabundance of supply. The market's flooded."
The two reports are not contradictory. But the headlines send a very different signal:
Fresh details of the subterfuge emerge in a U.S. lawsuit. Apple doesn't deny any of it.
Here's how Apple (AAPL) allegedly got Proview International Holdings to sell them the iPad trademark 35 days before Steve Jobs unveiled the device at a San Francisco press conference.
Apple hired a British firm called Farncombe International and its managing director, Graham Robinson, to be its secret agent.
Robinson created a British shell company called IP Application Development Limited ("IPAD MORE
Mike Daisey has released the script of his controversial monologue on the Internet
UPDATE: Anybody who is interested in Mike Daisey's work should first listen to the retraction prepared by This American Life here.
- - - -
Even as he performs an extended stay of his monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at the New York Public Theater, Mike Daisey has done a rare thing for a professional writer and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Feb 22, 2012 4:16 PM ET
Retail fail: SWAT teams move in after fights break out among rival gangs of scalpers
There may be no graceful way to launch an iPhone in a country of 1.3 billion that has caught what one analyst calls "Apple fever."
In a frightening parody of the snaking queues that greet the launch of new Apple (AAPL) products in the U.S., thousands of would-be customers massed outside the company's stores in Beijing and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 13, 2012 5:23 AM ET
Apple's new phone will arrive on the mainland -- and 21 other countries -- Friday, Jan. 13
New Year's Day -- the biggest shopping event of the Chinese calendar -- falls on Jan. 23 this year. And in a piece of extraordinarily fortuitous timing, Apple (AAPL) announced Wednesday that it will launch the iPhone 4S on mainland China (and 21 other countries) next Friday, Jan. 13.
That gives China's rapidly growing middle MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 4, 2012 10:46 AM ET
Apple received final certification on Dec. 22, according to a report in the People's Daily
Reports that the iPhone 4S was headed for mainland China -- the world's largest mobile phone market -- have been dribbling in ever since the device arrived in Hong Kong last month.
The news in November was that it would arrive on the mainland in December. On Dec. 6 Apple (AAPL) was reported to have been granted MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 27, 2011 8:07 AM ET
If true, Apple will have just expanded its addressable market by 167 million users
China Unicom (CHU), the second largest carrier in the world's largest mobile phone market, received a government permit this week to begin selling the iPhone 4S on mainland China this month, according to two Chinese-based news outlets (see here and here).
However a third source, citing a report by unnamed China Unicom "insiders" to Sina Tech, says the permit MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Dec 10, 2011 11:04 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
Police were called in Wednesday to restore order after fighting broke out
"I can't begin to accurately describe the scene on the walkways outside the Hong Kong Apple Store."
So begins the dispatch by Penguin Six's Andrew Leyden writing 24 hours before the first scheduled launch of Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 4S in China.
According to Leyden, police broke up a disorganized mob of 400 line sitters Wednesday night amid rising tensions and scattered fighting. On MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 10, 2011 3:59 PM ET
Bodes well for Friday's launch in 15 countries -- and maybe mainland China by December
Ticonderoga's Brian White, who has been keeping as close tabs on Apple's (AAPL) prospects in China as any Western analyst, reported Monday that pre-orders for the iPhone 4S ended almost as soon as they began in China last Friday.
According to his checks, pre-orders were sold out in Hong Kong 10 minutes after Apple started taking them. MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Nov 7, 2011 10:24 AM ET
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