iPhone 6 delay in China triggers black market sales

With the new iPhones not yet available in China, individuals are scooping them up through other sources and then reselling them at high prices, says Bloomberg.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

The iPhone 6 (left) and the 6 Plus CNET

The iPhone 6's unavailability in China is already creating a black market for people looking to make a quick profit selling one to eager buyers, according to a Bloomberg reported published Friday.

Sales of the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus kicked off today in the US, UK, Puerto Rico, Canada, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, France, and Germany. But China was notably off the list, reportedly while awaiting a full complement of regulatory approvals. Beijing's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has yet to approve the new model for network access.

The delay is not only hurting Apple, which sold a record number of iPhone 5S units in China during the fourth quarter of 2013, but is also revving up China's famed black market for the iPhone, Bloomberg said.

In one example, an enterprising seller in China who was able to score an iPhone supply was touting two-day delivery of a 16GB iPhone 6 for 8,000 yuan ($1,303). That's almost twice as much as the price of the phone sold via Apple's Hong Kong website. Other "vendors" in China cited by Bloomberg were offering the 128GB iPhone 6 at a price in US dollars of around $2,441, a hefty markup from the the Hong Kong price of around $927.

"It's going to be a while before the new iPhone comes to China officially, so if you want it now, you have to pay up," one of the sellers said, according to Bloomberg.

Apple iPhone 6 goes on sale around the globe (pictures)

See all photos

And it's not just the usual "black marketeers" looking to score big from iPhone sales. Average people are trying to get a cut of the action.

A 28-year-old financial planner from Hong Kong told Business Insider that he paid some friends in Japan to buy several iPhones, which he then plans to sell in mainland China. Another individual from China said he paid a group of people in Japan to buy iPhones.

Aside from gouging your customers, why is reselling an iPhone in China considered a black market offense? Individuals reselling iPhones purchased elsewhere are breaking two laws, Bloomberg explained. One law normally requires a seller to pay heavy import duties. The other requires that such phones be approved for sale by the Chinese government, which harkens back to the current stumbling block.

When might the iPhone 6 officially be approved for use in China? That remains a mystery.

On Tuesday, Wang Xiaoyun, general manager of China Mobile's technology department, said she doesn't know when the new phone will be available. China Mobile is the country's largest mobile carrier with around 767 million customers. Apple also has had deals with China Unicom and China Telecom to sell the iPhone.

Carolyn Wu, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Apple, told Bloomberg earlier this week that she couldn't provide a date for the China release and said simply that "China is a key market for us and we will get here as soon as possible."