Although you can’t preorder an iPhone 5s here in the States, Apple opted to allow people to reserve the iPhone 5s in China in order to better handle the frenzy of the coming launch day. Less than 24 hours later, everything but the 16GB Space Gray iPhone 5s sold out, and the gold model sold quickest of all.
Just two hours after the 5s reservation system went live, the handset sold out at the Sanlitun, Xidan Joy City, and Wangfujing Apple Stores, according to Sina Tech.
Why is Apple handing out iPhone 5s reservations in China specifically? It’s to reduce scalping. Scalping is such a huge issue that even Genius Bar reservations are booked in bulk by dealers and sold at a premium on the black market. Since Apple wasn’t offering preorders, Cupertino created the kind of limited demand scenario favored by scalpers, who can simply pay people to stand in line as long as it takes to buy up every last iPhone, then resell them at a higher rate on the streets later.
Apple’s reservation system requires that every person reserving an iPhone have a unique Apple ID, government ID, and smartphone number. It looks designed so as to be hard to game. Hopefully that will keep the scalping under control.
As for the popularity of the gold iPhone 5s, consider me surprised. Many people have said that the gold iPhone 5s would be a popular model in China, but I didn’t believe them, because other data suggests that gold isn’t as popular in Asia as people claim with consumer goods. It appears I was wrong.
The iPhone 5c, though? Although open to the same reservation system as the iPhone 5s, it is not doing well in China so far, and no wonder. The Chinese have not been shy so far pointing out how disappointed they are with Apple’s newer, cheaper handset.