The iPhone 4S launch in China did not go quite as Apple had planned.
Throngs of people are a norm for new product launches at Apple, but the gaggle of scalpers trying to hustle the system caused Apple to delay sales, earning its stores an egg wash and plenty of animosity. Now, after implementing a lottery system for ordering the iPhone 4S, Apple has resumed selling the device online and will ship by March 2.
The lottery reservation system seems to be doing its job; scalping is on the decline and the customers who have abided by the buying policies are now able to get their iPhone 4Ses.
Add that to Apple's stockpile of available iPhone 4S units finally catching up to the initial demand and people in China are now looking at reasonable shipping times. Of course in this case, reasonable is about a month. But that is not likely to deter many as the iPhone continues to make a dent in the Chinese smartphone market.
According to a report from China Daily the shipping times for iPhones in China actually vary quite a bit. "If you pay today, you might get the items tomorrow, and no later than March 2," said a telephone sales operator.
The reservation system is quite complex to outwit the scalping organizations that have become extremely organized in their attempts to snag one of the hottest products on the market in order to resell it at a tremendous profit. Apple's system is online for only 3 hours each day and requires valid government-issued identification, just to sign up (and of course to purchase it later) for the reservation lottery.
Customers who are entered in the lottery are notified by 9 p.m. that day if they receive an iPhone reservation and are eligible to purchase an iPhone in one of Apple's stores. "Only those who receive an e-mail confirming their reservation will be able to purchase an iPhone; we will not be selling iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S to walk-in customers."
There is still no word on when Apple might begin direct sales in its stores, but for now customers seem to have a bit of reprieve with online sales being available again. "Since we began accepting online orders yesterday, not as many people have been hawking iPhones nearby as before," said a worker at the Apple Store in Beijing.
Should Apple implement a reservation lottery system for all its new product releases to avoid scalpers and resellers? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!