Apple iPhone 5 has not even been released yet, but sellers on China’s largest e-commerce platform, Taobao, are already accepting pre-orders.
Apple iPhone 5 is expected to be released sometime between August and October this year. Sources have said the iPhone 5 would have a bigger screen than previous models, while Taiwanese media reported the phone’s voice recognition software, Siri, would have more powerful functions.
Sellers on Taobao, a unit of Alibaba Group, are accepting orders for the iPhone 5, in some cases asking for a deposit of 1,000 yuan ($160) for the new phone. One seller, “Dahai99888”, who started accepting pre-orders this week, is asking for full payment upfront, at a cool 6,999 yuan ($1,100). ($1 = 6.3686 Chinese yuan)
Taobao sellers said they planned to buy the iPhone 5 in Hong Kong or the United States and then bring it to mainland China. Apple products are often available in Hong Kong before they are released on the mainland.
The pre-order activity comes despite the mystery around the iPhone 5 and highlights the intense demand for new Apple products in China.
Apple has not confirmed the specifications, details or price of the latest iPhone, but the Internet rumor mill has been in overdrive, churning out photo renderings and pictures of purported iPhone 5 engineering samples and speculating endlessly on its technical specifications and functions.
Apple did not respond to requests for comment.
Demand for Apple products in China is so high that many consumers buy smuggled goods in order get them before the official China release. Earlier this year scalpers queued overnight outside a Beijing store for the latest version of the iPhone 4, only to pelt the store with eggs after Apple decided against selling the phone there because of security concerns.
Apple, which recently settled an iPad trademark lawsuit with a Shenzhen technology firm, said on Tuesday it would release its latest iPad in China on July 20.
Apple has five stores in mainland China and plans to open flagship stores in the major Chinese cities of Chengdu and Shenzhen, according to government officials.