200,000 Plus New iPads Already Smuggled (Back) Into China

Apple has yet to launch the new iPad in China, but enterprising dealers and traders have reportedly smuggled more than 200,000 units of the new “resolutionary” tablet already.

Chinese customs authorities have clamped down on smuggling, but at least 200,000 new iPad units have reportedly been brought into China from the U.S. and Hong Kong.

China is a hot market for premium devices, given the rise of the middle class, and the popularity of cutting-edge technologies like the iPhone 4S. As Apple has not included China in its first batch of countries where the new iPad was released, grey-market resellers have reportedly sourced these stocks from the U.S., with most of the goods imported via Shenzhen (which, ironically, hosts one of Foxconn’s manufacturing facilities that build the iPad).

Tech in Asia says U.S. iPad buyers get a profit of about US$ 20 per iPad sold to smugglers, although grey market prices in China have reportedly gone as high as 10,000 yuan (US$ 1,580) for the first batches of the entry-level 16 GB WiFi-only iPad, which normally retails for US$ 499. Once Apple launches the iPad officially, though, prices are expected to drop to just US$ 80 above the official retail prices.

The 200,000 count doesn’t include units brought back to China through other cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai. SlashGear notes that units smuggled back from Hong Kong fetch a lower markup for buyers who re-sell their iPads to smugglers, at about US$ 12.50. When Apple launched the new iPad in Hong Kong, it implemented an ID requirement, in which buyers were required to present local IDs, which was intended to prevent scalpers from the mainland from snapping up iPads en masse.

Apple has not announced a definite launch date for the new iPad in China, although regulatory approvals and requirements are likely to delay the launch a few months. Apple’s second batch of iPad releases will include Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovaksia, Solvenia, Spain, and Sweden.

Apple is already retailing the new iPad in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, and the UK, although the tablets have reportedly sold out in some markets, due to higher demand than expected.

Chinese authorities have actually strengthened their efforts against smuggling, knowing how lucrative the grey market businesses can be for both scalpers and retailers, reports MIC Gadget, although with 200,000 units already in the market (not counting other cities), it seems to be a lost cause at least in Shenzhen.