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Beijing vendors offer 'iPhone 6'

2014-07-16 15:56 Global Times Web Editor: Qin Dexing

Claim phone is genuine, 'smuggled in' from US, Canada

Consumers in the world's largest smartphone market may already be able to buy the highly anticipated next-generation iPhone, vendors in Beijing's Zhongguancun electronics markets claimed Tuesday regarding the rumored new phones from California-based Apple Inc in China.

"We started selling the iPhone 6 on Saturday," a salesman at an IT market in Zhongguancun, one of the country's largest retail hubs for electronics devices, said Tuesday.

The salesman claimed that the latest iPhone model, featuring a 4.7-inch screen and available in three colors - dark grey, silver and gold - is currently being sold in the US and Canada, and its shipments in China have been smuggled in from these two countries and swore that the phone was genuine.

Another model, rumored to have a 5.5-inch display, is not available, the salesman said, disclosing the iPhone 6's China launch would be no later than early October.

The starting price of the 4.7-inch phone was about 15,000 yuan ($2,430.88) on Tuesday, as hawked by several vendors in a few IT markets in Zhongguancun, according to whom the price tag has already fallen from more than 20,000 yuan when it first hit the markets over the past weekend, though this is unlikely to plunge further over the next couple of weeks.

The iPhone 6 sales ranged from between three and a dozen for each vendor who claimed to offer the latest Apple gadget for Chinese consumers, casting aside skepticism that the iPhone 6 in China were no more than copycats and fakes.

A request for a hands-on look of the phone was denied by all of the vendors unless an order and full payment was first made.

There has been a lot of recent Chinese media coverage that an unidentified domestic Chinese company is working on a copycat iPhone 6, resembling the upcoming phone displayed by various leaks.

The copycat phone is purportedly powered by a customized Android system, which nonetheless appears to feature an interface similar to Apple's iOS.

A search for iPhone 6 also revealed a number of results on taobao.com, the country's largest online marketplace, which tout to guarantee pre-orders for the phone, charging between 3,000 yuan and 10,000 yuan.

But as of yet, Apple has not made any official announcement about the new models.

A Beijing-based spokesperson for Apple could not be immediately reached for comment.

"The new iPhone model with a larger display would renew my interest in Apple's phone products," said Joyce Yang, a 26-year-old Beijing resident who had previously traded in her iPhone 4 for a Samsung Galaxy S4.

But she will not consider purchasing the phones being sold in the aforementioned markets, citing authenticity concerns and the excessive price tag.

Industry insiders also deny the possibility that the phones being sold at Zhongguancun were real.

"They could only be fake ones, as the phone pre-ordered from Apple won't arrive until just a few days before the official launch of the item," Bryan Wang, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research in Beijing, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Even the mass production of the phone has not yet started, as the mass manufacturing of the products would routinely begin one month prior to the official shipment date, Wang went on to say.

CK Lu, a Taipei-based senior analyst at research firm Gartner Inc, who did not believe the authenticity of the "iPhone 6" being sold in Zhongguancun's markets, told the Global Times on Tuesday "they must be copycat versions."

But the analysts are both upbeat about the outlook for Apple's upcoming next-generation phone, which will likely hit shelves in September.

Apple's new phones, which would certainly be equipped with larger displays, are expected to lure back some of its previous users who shifted to an array of larger alternatives, especially Samsung's Galaxy lineup, Wang at Forrester Research remarked.

Although Samsung retained the top spot in China's smartphone sector with an 18.1 percent market share, its arch-rival Apple, the sixth-largest smartphone vendor in China, saw its share of the market jumping to 6.6 percent in the first quarter of 2014 from 4.81 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, showed data from Beijing-based industry consultancy Analysys International.

Apple may expect to sell more phones in the Chinese market boosted by its upcoming new models, Gartner's Lu forecast.

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