The iPhone circus is back in town again.
Last week, Apple held their annual keynote in San Francisco, and with it, announced the arrival of yet another new iPhone.
Along comes the pre-order period a few days later, and here we are today when the phone will be officially be in the hands of the Apple faithful.
Get The iPhone Online Or Risk Not Getting It At All
That was Apple’s stance as Techcrunch found out when asked about the allotment to walk-in customers at Apple Stores.
This comes in the midst of another statement saying that the fingerprint and scratch prone Jet Black model will only be released in limited numbers for the initial batches.
Back here in Singapore, those hoping to get their grubby paws on Apple’s latest toy flooded the websites of our three telcos on booking day, and unhappiness and massive disappointment ensued.
Singtel was plagued with technical difficulties due to their ordering site not being able to cope with the massive influx of web traffic.
This caused a full day of delay before customers can log in again.
The common thread among Singtel, M1 and Starhub though, is of course the inability of customers to get the phones of their choice, if not, anything at all.
On top of Apple’s confirmation that initial batches are in limited quantity, local telcos have also confirmed that shipment for certain models have been delayed on Apple’s end and will not be available on launch day.
This of course caused unrest amongst a lot of people.
Queuing For Profits
While queues for Apple products in Singapore are still quite tame as compared to those in the USA, we still are a nation who will queue for anything that people will deem worth their time.
From clearance sales, to this case – products with some level of exclusivity, Singaporeans from all walks of life can be seen queuing not just overnight, but sometimes even days in advance.
For the iPhone 7, people had started waiting at some telco outlets and official Apple resellers as early as Thursday morning, first forming ‘unofficial’ queues until mall management started putting up barricades at the various stores for them to wait in.
But here’s the kicker, iPhone as a commodity is still a somewhat big business, and Singapore is always fortunate enough to always be on the list of countries.
While it means is that Singaporeans are in line to be one of the first in the world to get their hands on Apple’s latest. But that also means that neighbouring countries who are not getting it at the same time will clamour for it.
This can happen two ways – someone here is exporting it to them, or people are actually flying into Singapore to get it.
Picture this, in places like Hong Kong, their Apple Stores actually have a quota for how many iPhones can be sold in a day.
Channel NewsAsia yesterday interviewed a Vietnamese lady who has especially flew into Singapore just to get a hold of the new iPhone 7, citing that she could sell it back home for at least $3,000.
Though no specific model was mentioned, it’s assumed she got the most sought after one – the 256GB black Iphone 7 Plus that costs $1,588 on the Apple Store.
With a profit of roughly $1,400, that is still a pretty penny, even though we still haven’t accounted for how much she spends traveling here, but with the current shortage of supply from Apple, she is sure to earn much more from the sale anyway.
Now imagine if it was a Singaporean selling the phone and getting that kind of money.
Now she is just an individual, but if we’re talking about bulk resellers, then these profits are amplified.
The keen-eyed of you who have been to iPhone launch events before may have noticed shady people lurking around with stacks of cash offering to buy your phones.
These people more often than not the exporters themselves, or are working for one.
It’s Distasteful But Not Unlawful
Much like the underground clothing reselling industry where products, by brands such as Supreme, could go for as much as ten times its original value due to its limited quantities, the initial hype surrounding the release of an iPhone is quite similar.
These resellers are paying people to queue for them, or offering to buy off strangers looking to sell away their new phones anyway.
While this means that there those who genuinely want the phone but unable to do so because of this are unfairly frozen out.
At the start, there will always be a mad rush to be the first to own one at all costs, despite the fact it is common knowledge that by year’s end, there will most definitely be enough iPhones of every colour to go around for everyone to buy.
FOMO at its finest at work.
I will admit that I myself used to be on that bandwagon of timing my re-contract period to the month of September, when iPhones are traditionally launched.
Looking back, the time and effort to camp online waiting for the bookings to open, or having to brave the queues at Marina Bay Sands at the Singtel collection area definitely doesn’t justify the purported ‘profits’.
As of this year, I will be taking a laid-back approach to any new iPhone – watch all the drama during the launch, and a few months later, leisurely order one for myself from the Apple Store online..
Featured Image Credit: South China Morning Post