High iPhone Prices? Not a Problem in China

Apple's iPhone has been available on the grey market in China for some time, but that didn't stop shoppers from lining up to be among the first to buy the combination iPod and smartphone from China Unicom despite higher prices, according to Fortune.

China Unicom's iPhone line in Beijing was about 300 people deep, and shoppers lined up at the Apple Store at the Village at Sanlitun, too.

Despite predictions that consumers wouldn't be interested in buying legit iPhones because of the higher prices and lack of built-in Wi-Fi, shoppers seemed excited to get one in their hands. Grey market dealers have been selling the 32GB iPhone 3GS for 5,700 yuan (about US$835) with Wi-Fi, and China Unicom is selling the same model without Wi-Fi between 4,999 (about $730) and 6,999 (about $1,025) depending on which contract the subscriber chooses.

Knowing the grey market for iPhones is big business, China Unicom is offering an "amnesty program" where people can sign up for service contracts even if they didn't buy an "official" iPhone.

China Unicom kicked off its iPhone launch with a ceremony at its "The Place" flagship store, complete with presentation by Apple vie president Greg Joswiak. He called the iPhone launch "an extraordinary day."