updated 03:15 pm EST, Fri February 3, 2012
Some sales methods still restricted
Apple has reopened online sales of the iPhone 4S on the Chinese mainland, says China Daily. The option actually became available again on Wednesday local time, but customers wanting to buy a 4S may still be waiting for weeks. The Chinese storefront mentions an expected delivery date of "February," while a phone sales staffer tells the Daily that "If you pay today, you might get the items tomorrow, and no later than March 2." Orders are restricted to two devices per person.
Recently the company set up a reservation lottery system in Hong Kong, following a decision to temporarily suspend sales in mainland locations after problems with scalpers, including violence. The gray market could in fact be responsible for the Chinese online store running out of units, since scalpers are known to use bots that will make orders are soon as new stock becomes available. The Beijing Times remarks that the Xidan and Sanlitun retail stores still aren't selling the 4S, and haven't decided on when they'll allow walk-in customers.
Conflicting reports exist on whether Apple's measures have had an effect. The Daily suggests that Beijing's gray market prices are unlikely to grow, due to good supply from Hong Kong; a scalper is quoted as saying it's easy to find "40 or 50" iPhones. Apple Store workers -- such as ones at the Xidan outlet -- claim to have seen drops in scalping activity. "Since we began accepting online orders yesterday, not as many people have been hawking [sic] iPhones nearby as before," one Xidan worker is quoted as saying.