In China, iPad fever is cooling

It is almost a month since Apple released its new iPads, and as usual, the kit is not yet officially launched in China. But buoyant overseas purchases enabled Chinese people to have any products as fast as consumers in other countries, at a higher cost. The black-market price, on the other hand, measures the popularity of these products. The new iPad this time, received very lukewarm responses in China.
Written by Cyrus Lee, Contributor

Although Apple's new launches were always sought after by Chinese consumers, sales prospects for the latest generation of iPads may not be that promising in the territory.

A year ago when iPad 2 were delivered to Beijing one day after the launch, some private dealers sold the low-end WiFi-model for RMB10,000 (US$1,600) a set and it was still a hot scene. This March, the "debut price" in Beijing was only around RMB5,000 (US$800) and the prices almost declined day by day.

According to prices quoted on Taobao, China's largest Internet consumer-to-consumer retail portal, many dealers these days priced the new kit at RMB3,600 (US$570) for the low-end model, which is even lower than the official retail prices of RMB3,688 (US$585) for the equivalent version of iPad 2 sold in China, before the discount.

On China's tweeter-like Sina Weibo, netizens were sharing pictures in which many scalpers were returning the new iPads to Apple Stores in the US, instead of reselling them to China.

Hong Kong is one of the major origins of the new iPads resold in China, as the duty-free haven sells Apple products at the lowest prices in the world. Despite Apple suspending the direct sales of new iPads and adopting a lottery reserving system, a private digital dealer in the city, who declined to disclose himself, said the reselling price of the new iPads is very close to official retail price due to "sufficient inventory".

Chinese consumers also complained  that the new iPads look no different from the earlier generation, yet runs hotter, and is pricier -- since iPad 2 is now sold at a discount.

The lukewarm market response in China contrasts with Apple's March 19 announcement which claimed to have sold three million of the new iPads worldwide in only three days.

In late March, First Financial Daily, a Chinese newspaper, interviewed  a Foxconn employee who served at the production lines of the new iPad in China. The employee claimed that his/her holidays had increased to three days per week from only one day in the past, as Apple cut back production of the new iPads.

According to the report, Apple started mass-manufacturing the new iPads since January while cutting production notably in March. The report also cited some private dealers in China who claimed to suffer a loss as they purchased the new iPads at a fairly high prices while the reselling prices are disappointingly low.

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