Chinese economic growth may be slowing, but its iPhone 5 rumor industry is soaring.
This week, opportunistic Chinese sellers start taking orders for iPhone 5. Wondrous metal engineering samples, direct from China, "confirm" long-rumored phone details. A patent grant sparks a new wave of iOSphere cud-chewing about NFC and mobile payments. And The Announcement is just 25 days away.
You read it here second.
"And while Apple has yet to confirm the device's features or the device itself, the rumors have painted a picture of what Apple might announce this fall." -- Shawn Ingram, GottaBeMobile.com, on the artistic essence of iPhone rumoring
iPhone 5 already on sale in China
Reuters started this one, with a story about how "opportunistic sellers on China's largest e-commerce platform, Taobao, are already accepting pre-orders [for iPhone 5] complete with mock-up pictures and purported technical specifications."
"Opportunistic" makes these guys sound like gritty, tough, hard-scrabble entrepreneurs. Calling them "exploitive grifters" or "predatory con men" doesn't have quite the same ring to it.
Taobao is a division of Alibaba Group, a leading Web property in China. Taobao itself is not "offering" the iPhone, but the online sellers that use the site's e-commerce services are.
Reuters says these sellers "are accepting orders for the iPhone 5, in some cases asking for a deposit of 1,000 yuan ($160) for the new phone. One seller, 'Dahai99888,' who started accepting pre-orders this week, is asking for full payment upfront, at a cool 6,999 yuan ($1,100)."
Several of the sellers talked to Reuters: "They planned to buy the iPhone 5 in Hong Kong or the United States and then bring it to mainland China. Apple products are often available in Hong Kong before they are released on the mainland."
Rollup is pretty sure that for 6,999 yuan, a Chinese iPhanatic could travel to Hong Kong himself, stay at a quasi-luxurious hotel, stand in line for the phone to go on sale, buy it, return home, and still come out ahead.
And then Rollup's second favorite line in the whole story: "The sellers could not promise a specific delivery time."
And our No. 1 favorite line, a quote from one of these opportunistic sellers: "Demand is high. Yesterday someone just bought two phones. Altogether we have about two dozen orders," said one seller on Taobao who went by the nickname Xiaoyu.
In this fantasyland, "someone just bought two phones" doesn't mean what it means in normal life. In normal life, it means, "I paid for a product I found on Amazon and it arrived two days later via UPS." For the TaobaoLand buyers, it means, "I paid some guy who doesn't even use a real name more than double the expected price of a product that doesn't yet exist but which he promised that he'd buy for me in a foreign country when it's released and make sure I got it."
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