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 sold in New York City had been making their way back to China's busy gray market. The trade worked like this:
Apple (AAPL) tried to crack down on the trade, limiting sales to two per customer and, before New York's attorney general put a stop to it, allegedly refusing to sell to certain Asian customers.
But on Saturday, Apple will choke off the underground trade the free-market way: by selling iPhone 4s in Beijing and Shanghai for 4,999 yuan ($728.46) for the 16GB model and 5,999 yuan ($874.18) for 32GB.
According to Bilton, the price of smuggled phones has already started to fall.
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]
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