21 February 2019
The black market price for the iPhone 6 has tumbled in the five days since its official launch, burning many speculators. Photo: HKEJ
The black market price for the iPhone 6 has tumbled in the five days since its official launch, burning many speculators. Photo: HKEJ

Scalpers losing heads as iPhone 6 black market plunges

Five days were all it took for greedy iPhone 6 speculators to lose their shirts — and their heads.

One speculator is said to have blown 500,000 yuan (US$81,470) in three days. The iPhone 6 has been around only five days.

That gives you an idea how much the resale price of an iPhone 6 has nosedived in the past two days.

Take the 128 gigabyte model of the gold iPhone 6 Plus, the most popular in the series.

The black market price of this model hit HK$18,500 (US$2,380) on the day of the official launch. It has since tumbled 51 percent to HK$9,000, just HK$912 higher than the official retail price on the Apple website.

The smaller iPhone 6 is even worse. Sin Tat Plaza in Mong Kok, the most popular exchange for iPhones, saw some transactions in which the resale price of the iPhone 6 was lower than the official selling price.  

The interesting thing is that many thought the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were going to be a mega hit worldwide.

That doesn’t look like it now, according to some traders.

Unlike in previous iPhone mania, this one saw a clutch of amateur speculators, including students and housewives, compete with professional scalpers.

Most of them are inexperienced with limited capital. They were easily unnerved by the slightest price fluctuations.

Traders spotted this weakness and forced prices to come down.

According to a Sin Tat Plaza source quoted by tech website, amateur profiteers ruined the iPhone black market.

Chat forums, websites, even the media encouraged people to resell their iPhone 6 in Shenzhen’s Huaqiangbei electronics market.

Speculators were selling their iPhones individually in the wholesale market, weakening their pricing power, the source said.

“Before, we bought iPhones and resold them to traders in Shenzhen in bulk. That’s why the price was more or less stable,” he said.

When prices began to crumble, individual scalpers panicked and sold quickly. Some iPhone traders in Sin Tat Plaza even stopped buying iPhones from individuals.

The black market was largely fueled by the unavailability of the iPhone 6 in mainland China but now reports say Chinese regulators could give the go-ahead for its launch “within a short time”.

The status of the iPhone 6 in the mainland has been a mystery since Apple unveiled the device this month without releasing a launch date for the world’s largest smartphone market.

The delay has led to widespread speculation the iPhone 6 has run into difficulty securing regulatory approval from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), with some reports suggesting the launch could be delayed until 2015.

“The iPhone 6 has entered the final stage of the approval process. Now it’s just a matter of time,” MIIT chief Miao Wei told Tencent. “Netizens, please be patient.”

Just three days after the official launch of the new iPhone on Friday, Apple reported that the new devices had set a new sales record during the first weekend — more than 10 million sets of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

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EJ Insight writer

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