updated 09:05 pm EDT, Thu July 12, 2012
Unregulated e-commerce sales start at $1,000
Apple hasn't even announced the date for a press conference unveiling the "iPhone 5," but sellers on China's largest e-commerce platform Taobao are accepting preorders. The listings include composite mock-up pictures, rumored specifications, and fake technical illustrations of the phone. Orders are being accepted for a deposit of 1,000 yuan ($161) from some sellers, but at least one seller is asking for a full 8,600 ($1,349) yuan upfront.
Taobao sellers told Reuters that they planned to buy the new iPhone upon release in Hong Kong or the US and smuggle it into the mainland before the Chinese release date. For obvious reasons, the sellers could not promise a specific delivery time to buyers.
Sellers on the service claim the "iPhone 5" will have a larger screen than previous models, or enhanced features for voice recognition technology Siri. One seller posted a list of 17 possible new "iPhone 5" features, and ranked them by percentage possibility that the feature would be included in the new phone.
The business-to-consumer platform of the Alibaba group has an assortment of hard-shells and soft silicone skins for the iPhone 5, but also had inaccurate cases before last year's announcement of the iPhone 4S instead of a new-form iPhone 5. Most of the sellers are located in southern China, with a large concentration near the Foxconn plant most likely used for phone manufacture. Most of the cases point to an elongated iPhone 5 with an earphone jack at the bottom of the phone. One Alibaba seller Reuters interviewed said they guaranteed the cases accuracy and geometry, claiming the company's boss received the specifications from "certain channels."