HK: Apple’s iReserve aims to temper iPhone buying spree

My wife and I visited Apple’s swanky showroom at ifc mall for just for the second time. My hope of getting an expected birthday gift was soon met with reality; buying an iPhone 4S isn’t as easy as buying an apple. The fruit, that is.

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After a rowdy crowd queuing to buy the latest iPhone version required dozens of police officers to put things in order, Apple decided to move its buying process online — and exclusively for iPhone 4S. If there are 5,000 phones available for 1,000 interested buyers whose main interest is to earn a hefty profit by reselling phones on grey market, there is extra motivation to stay in the line.

Dubbed iReserve system, customers can go online and attempt to secure appointment. If successful, it is possible to pick up phones the next day. With the new system, it is no longer possible to just walk in and buy iPhone 4S. iReserve also aims to cut down on middlemen reselling products at hyper-inflated prices. With online purchase, we skip crowds and avoid queues but it’s also possible that multiple parties accessing iReserve could overwhelm servers and paralyze the whole e-commerce chain.

The launch of iPhone years ago has created a whole new business opportunity where resellers even flew to the United States to make bulk product purchases and still make a neat profit after selling them in Hong Kong. Some of them hire “professional queuers” who will occupy the line on their behalf. But with inventories often lower than demands, I think its unfair to deprive legitimate buyers in favor of aggressive merchants. Thus, iReserve is welcome news to typical buyers who wish to experience Apple’s sleek products without profiting from them.

The original price of iPhone 4S is HK$5,088 and resellers charge at least HK$1,000 more to the public.