updated 10:45 am EST, Tue November 23, 2010
Carrier trying to crack gray market?
Carrier China Unicom is imposing new restrictions on local iPhone 4 buyers, according to Bloomberg. If purchased iPhones are separated from their bundled SIM cards, Unicom says, buyers may now have their deposits frozen. The move is explicitly aimed at curbing resales of the device, which have been causing serious problems for the company and the public at large.
China has a substantial gray market for iPhones, with prices vastly inflated over already high costs. Until recently, Chinese hoping to buy an iPhone direct from Apple had to line up at one of the country's four Apple retail stores, where scalpers have sometimes jostled with legitimate shoppers in order to get their hands on limited stock. The opening of a regional online store did little to alleviate matters, as scalpers simply set up automatic ordering schemes to grab units as soon as they became available. China Unicom runs its own separate sales, although it remains the only official iPhone carrier in the country.