Every time a shiny new Apple toy comes out in Hong Kong, so, it seems, do the mainland scalpers. I popped down there on Wednesday evening ahead of the new iPad launch on Friday to see what all the fuss was about and sure enough, there was a gaggle of rather dishevelled looking souls camped outside.
As I wrote in this story for The Register, though, they didn’t look like your typical scalpers. I’m not being sexist here but i had more to mind large, burly male types rather than young women and old men. They were also camped rather a long way from the Apple store – over a footbridge and down some steps to be precise, but that could be as it’s the closest to the IFC Mall that the police will let them stand.
A pretty pissed off police officer told me they’ve been asked to move on several times but won’t budge – some one has even stuck up signs in English and Chinese saying Apple will not allow first come first served walk-in purchases on Friday, but to no avail.
In fact, the policeman got even more exasperated as, when I was talking to him, he noticed an Apple store official demonstrating one of the new iPads to the assembled crowd. If they are scalpers, it’s a pretty strange way to treat them.
In the end it’s all down to supply and demand. It doesn’t matter that Apple has instigated a strict Reserve and Collect system which requires pre-registration and authorisation via the web site before users are given the chance to collect in store the following day.
If there are no new iPads on sale in China and no slated release date, as there isn’t at the moment, then some chancers are always going to come over the border in a bid to buy some in order to sell on at vastly inflated prices.
We’ll have to see what happens on Friday, but I’m pretty sure there’ll be some shady bargaining going on with successful iPad 3 customers as they leave the store with their shiny new toy.