Apple: Test your luck! Maybe we'll let you buy an iPhone

If you want to buy an iPhone 4S in Hong Kong, you might have to enter a lottery to win the chance to buy a phone.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
Apple's Hong Kong retail store, where you have to enter a lottery of sorts to be able to buy an iPhone 4S.
Apple's Hong Kong retail store, where you have to enter a lottery of sorts to be able to buy an iPhone 4S. Apple

Looking to minimize large lines and unhappy shoppers, Apple is testing out a new type of reservation system that lets people sign up in hopes of getting a crack at buying a new iPhone in its sole Hong Kong retail store.

Over the weekend, Apple began testing a new lottery-style system there that lets customers sign up for a chance to get a reservation, replacing the previous system that would open up briefly and let anyone who was online at the time nab a spot.

"If you don't receive an email, we were unable to reserve an iPhone for you, and you can try again another time," the new reservation site, which was spotted by 9to5Mac reads. "Only those who receive an email confirming their reservation will be able to purchase an iPhone; we will not be selling iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S to walk-in customers."

Along with the new registration tool, Apple requires those who manage to get a spot in the lottery to provide a "government-issued photo ID" that matches the name and ID number on the reservation--a move that's aimed at keeping people from giving away their reservations to others.

Apple began selling the iPhone 4S in Hong Kong and 14 other countries in early November, weeks ahead of its debut in mainland China. Difficulty in obtaining phones there has reportedly sent some shoppers to Hong Kong to pick up a device--behavior the lottery system may curtail.

Apple opened up its Hong Kong store, its first in the region, near the end of September to huge crowds of shoppers, many of whom were believed to be iPhone 4S scalpers. The two floor retail space is located in Hong Kong's International Financial Center Mall, and is rumored to be one of Apple's most expensive stores yet based on rent.