23 October 2018
Customers line up to buy iPhone X at an Apple Store in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters
Customers line up to buy iPhone X at an Apple Store in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Why iPhone X had a disappointing debut price

There is no shortage of surprises at Apple Inc.

The iPhone maker surged to a record high on the way to becoming a US$900 billion stock with a market-beating third quarter and even before selling a single unit of the widely watched iPhone X.

However, Apple seems to be the only big winner here. Its distributors, especially Hong Kong dealers, were left high and dry.

Not too long ago, speculators were making easy pickings off new Apple releases. Still, expectations for the iPhone X were through the roof — at double the price or as much as HK$50,000. The most expensive phones are priced at HK$8,588 for the 64GB version and HK$9,888 for the 256GB model.    

Outside Apple’s flagship stores in IFC, Hysan Place and Festival Walk and at the biggest phone exchange in Sin Tat Plaza, people were trying to trade the phones at a hefty profit.

But the trading price was no more than a HK$1,000 or 10 per cent premium over the official price.

What a letdown for die-hard speculators who have been making a lot of money since the iPhone made its debut 10 years ago.

Netizens have a lot to say about this. To sum it up, they say there has not been a significant imbalance between supply and demand in Hong Kong and China. They say the iPhone X has found a floor and wealthy Chinese consumers are no longer taking the bait at the price speculators want.

When online purchases began last Friday, Apple Store Hong Kong released a limited supply before closing off in 10 minutes.

That left many interested buyers disappointed, especially those who could not complete the transaction using Standard Chartered and HSBC credit cards because of some unexplained technical problems.

By contrast, there is plenty of supply in the official China Apple online store in the mainland, although the price, which is set at 8,388 yuan and 9,688 yuan, is about 10 per cent more expensive than in Hong Kong.

The reservation period for the iPhone X is three to four weeks but in Hong Kong, it is currently unavailable.

It is understandable that Apple would want to make most of its money this way while also stopping any speculative activities and avoiding unnecessary bad publicity.

Phones are for sale, not speculation, which is something Hong Kong is good at.

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EJ Insight writer

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