Chinese Site Accepting iPhone 5 ‘Preorders’

A website in China has begun accepting preorders for Apple’s iPhone 5 despite the fact that Apple hasn’t yet announced such a device in any way, shape, or form. Would-be sellers on Taobao, a business-to-consumer unit of B2B platform Alibaba, are offering mockups of the device, specs, and pricing.

Apple in China

Reuters reported that some aspiring sellers are asking for a deposit of CNY1,000 (US$157), while others are asking for the full price up front. One optimistic entrepeneur wants a mere CNY6,999 ($1,098), which could be considered a small price to pay for a device that doesn’t exist yet.

Apple is expected to unveil a new iPhone this fall, and many people expect the device to be called the iPhone 5. Rumors have abounded that it will feature a larger screen, a new form factor, faster processors, and all manner of new features. Apple hasn’t commented on those rumors, and isn’t likely to even announce its next iPhone until September, more than two months from now.

What’s even more fascinating is that Apple typically brings its iOS devices to China a little later than in other markets. The new iPad isn’t scheduled to go on sale in China until Jule 20th, for instance, though it was introduced in the States in March. The iPhone 4S was introduced in January of 2012, three months after it went on sale elsewhere.

China has a thriving black and grey market, however, and the sellers taking preorders for iPhone 5 plan to buy them in Hong Kong or other markets and bring them into mainland China by hand. It is this grey market has added to long lines and even riots at some of Apple’s retail stores.

Reuters talked to one reseller operating under the name Xiaoyu who said, “Demand is high. Yesterday someone just bought two phones. Altogether we have about two dozen orders.”

He added, “It’s not so easy to bring the phones from overseas, there’s a limit to how many you can carry in. If we could bring in a few thousand that will be great!”

Other merchants are offering cases for the unannounced device.