作者:未知 来源:未知 2014-10-14 我要评论( )

A Glum Sign for Apple in China, as Smuggled iPhones Go Begging


HONG KONG — When Apple’s latest iPhones went on sale this month in Hong Kong, Singapore and New York, among the hip urbanites and tech-obsessed was another group clamoring for the devices: Chinese scalpers looking to make a premium by flipping the phones to smugglers.


But the gray market for the new iPhones has already dried up, even though they will not officially go on sale in China for a few weeks, at the earliest.


Wholesalers who helped orchestrate the smuggling of tens of thousands of the phones into the country are now slashing prices to move inventory. At an electronics market in central Beijing, one retailer was recently selling the low-end iPhone 6 and 6 Plus for 6,500 renminbi to 8,800 renminbi ($1,060 to $1,436), down from 12,000 renminbi to 15,000 renminbi ($1,960 to $2,450) just after the release.

为了处理库存,之前帮助安排数万部新款iPhone偷运进中国的批发商正在大举降价。在北京市中心的一处电子市场,一名零售商最近在以6500元到8800元的价格,销售低配版的iPhone 6和iPhone 6 Plus,而刚开始发售时,它们的价格是1.2万元到1.5万元。

“Stocks of the iPhone 6 are way too high right now,” said one wholesaler of smuggled iPhones in Beijing’s northwestern tech hub Zhongguancun.

“现在iPhone 6的存货太多了,”一名销售水货iPhone的批发商说。他在位于北京西北部的科技中心中关村做生意。

The smugglers’ experience represents the new reality for Apple in China.


Four years ago, the iPhone 4 was a status symbol, with the black market booming before the product was officially introduced. Today, the iPhone is simply one option among many, as local companies like Xiaomi and Meizu Technology rival Apple in terms of coolness while charging less than half the price.

四年前,iPhone 4是身份的象征,在大陆市场正式发售前,黑市就颇为繁荣。如今,小米和魅族等中国本土手机在酷炫方面堪比苹果,而价钱却不足苹果的一半,于是iPhone沦为众多选择中的一个。

A spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment on the smuggling.


The primary route the iPhones have taken into China is via Hong Kong, according to the wholesaler, who declined to be identified because of the illegality of some parts of the operations. Scalpers organize Hong Kong customers with local identity cards to preorder phones that the scalpers then collect outside the store, paying about $325 extra per phone. The phones are then smuggled to wholesalers in Guangdong, across the border from Hong Kong, and from there are shipped to cities across China.


When the prices were high, early last week, the wholesaler said he was making more than $163 per sale. But his profit margins have dissolved as prices have fallen. “This year the scalpers’ losses will be big,” he said.


China is a fast-growing market for Apple, which competes with Samsung for control in the high-end smartphone segment. In January, Apple brokered a long-delayed deal with the country’s largest telecom company, China Mobile, which has helped bolster sales. The largest smartphone market in the world, China accounted for 15.9 percent of Apple’s revenue in the last quarter.


The new models will help Apple solidify its position in the country. In China there are about 50 million iPhone users, according to Kitty Fok, a managing director of the research firm IDC. She estimates that the company will sell about four million phones a month as customers swap their old iPhones for the new ones.

新产品将有助于苹果巩固在中国的地位。调研企业国际数据公司(IDC)的执行董事霍锦洁(Kitty Fok)称,中国有大约5000万iPhone用户。她估计,随着消费者将手中的iPhone升级换代,苹果公司每月会卖出大约400万部手机。

But both Apple and Samsung face stiff competition from local brands, which have been offering cheaper phones with high-end features. As Samsung’s sales slipped this year, the company was replaced by Xiaomi as the country’s largest smartphone maker, according to the market research firm Canalys.


“The local players aren’t only playing the price game,” Ms. Fok said. “They have products that cater to the local market, big screen sizes, optimized connectivity for China and dual SIM cards.”


The Chinese government is not making things any easier. An intensifying crackdown on corruption in the country has led officials, who in the past were known to spend big on luxury products like iPhones, to tamp down on lavish purchases.


The government has also signaled that it would take measures to curb government reliance on electronics made by foreign companies after disclosures by the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden about United States government surveillance. In a statement issued this month, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, said the company had never cooperated with the government of any country to provide access to customer data.

在国家安全局(National Security Agency)前承包商雇员爱德华·J·斯诺登(Edward J. Snowden)揭露美国政府的监控项目后,中国政府还释放了信号,将采取措施抑制政府对外国企业出产的电子设备的依赖。苹果首席执行官蒂莫西·D·库克(Timothy D. Cook)本月发表声明称,公司从未与任何国家的政府合作,提供客户数据。

At a conference this month, Wei Jianguo, the director general of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said that the Shanghai government had told its employees to use Huawei phones instead of phones produced by Apple or Samsung, according to a transcript posted on the news portal Sohu, one of the sponsors of the event.


Three government officials in Shanghai and Beijing said they had not heard about any formal notice to stop using foreign phones and said many in their departments still used iPhones. One of the officials in Beijing, however, said people in his office refrained from bringing in Apple computers or iPads, because they are a more conspicuous display of wealth.


Out of the gate, Apple is already a step behind with the iPhone 6. Last year, the company released the latest model in China at the same time it did in the United States, Japan and parts of Europe. This year, the release has been delayed as Apple awaits government approval, an often slow and unpredictable process.

从一开始,苹果就在iPhone 6的发售上慢了半拍。去年,公司同时在中国、美国、日本及部分欧洲国家发售新款手机。今年,苹果却推迟了在中国的出货时间,因为要等待政府的批准,而这通常是一个缓慢且不可预测的过程。

The iPhone 6 is likely to get the final license before China’s National Day celebrations on Oct. 1, according to a person with knowledge of the plans who works for one of China’s state-owned telecom providers. If that happens, the new models will most likely begin selling in China a few weeks later.

据在中国某家国有电信运营商任职的一名知情人士透露,iPhone 6很可能会在10月1日的国庆节之前获得最终的许可。如果确实如此,新款iPhone极可能会于几周后在中国开售。

The delay gives the smugglers a bit more time to get rid of their stock.


The recent scene at the electronics market in Beijing — a multistory mall crowded with stalls of vendors selling everything from calculators and hard drives to surveillance cameras and smartphones — was not encouraging. Only a few customers browsed in the narrow walkways.


No stalls openly displayed the new iPhones. On request, the vendors could procure the devices from a wholesaler. One vendor said the market for the phones was far worse than in past years but said he hoped a new crackdown on smuggling by customs officers would help push their price back up.


In recent days, Hong Kong’s marine police have played a cat-and-mouse game with smugglers who use speedboats to take iPhones into China. On Thursday night, the police ran off several men in a mangrove swamp loading boxes of iPhones into a flat wooden boat that would ferry them out to a nearby speedboat. They seized 286 iPhones, according to a statement from Hong Kong customs. In other instances, customs has found hundreds of phones concealed in the axles of trucks and in hidden compartments in cars.


A report from China’s state-run Xinhua news service said the government would auction off 2,000 iPhone 6s it had seized in the southern city of Shenzhen.

中国官方媒体新华社的一则报道称,政府将拍卖在南部城市深圳查获的2000部iPhone 6。

The vendor at the electronics market said that one way smugglers skirted the stricter enforcement was to walk the phones across the border two at a time. Usually those crossing the border take the phones out of the packaging to convince customs officials that the phones are their own, he said.


Tearing off the plastic on what appeared to be an unopened iPhone 6, he showed how the screen was already dotted with the fingerprints of whoever brought it into China.

他撕掉了看似尚未开封的iPhone 6外面的塑料包装,展示了手机屏幕,指出上面已经留下了将手机带入内地的人的指纹。

“Right now at our market you won’t find a phone that is actually in its original packaging,” he said.



scalper ['skælpə]
n. 黄牛(专售戏票等牟利);剥头皮的人;雕刻刀,圆凿子

smuggle ['smʌɡl]
vt. 走私;偷运vi. 走私,私运;偷带

illegality [,ili:'ɡæləti]
n. 违法;[法] 非法行为;犯规

wholesaler ['həul,seilə]
n. 批发商

lavish ['læviʃ]
adj. 浪费的;丰富的;大方的vt. 浪费;慷慨给予;滥用

stock [stɔk]
n. 股份,股票;库存;血统;树干adj. 存货的,常备的;平凡的vt. 进货;备有;装把手于…vi. 囤积;办货;出新芽

auction ['ɔ:kʃən]
vt. 拍卖;竞卖n. 拍卖