Apple launches lottery system for iPhone reservations in HK


APPLE Inc has introduced a lottery system for iPhone reservations in Hong Kong to combat scalpers who were blamed for disrupting the iPhone 4S launch on the Chinese mainland.

But, so far, the system is not being introduced in Shanghai or other mainland cities, an official at Apple Shanghai confirmed with Shanghai Daily yesterday.

Apple's online store in Hong Kong requires customers to submit their personal details for a chance to reserve an iPhone between 9am and 12pm each day, Apple said.

Those lucky enough to be awarded a reservation will be notified via e-mail before 9pm and told when and where they can pick up the phone. Those who don't receive an e-mail can try their luck again the next day, the company said.

"Due to high demand, we are accepting a limited number of iPhone reservations per day," an announcement on the website said.

"If you don't receive an e-mail, we were unable to reserve an iPhone for you, and you can try again another time. Only those who receive an e-mail confirming their reservation will be able to purchase an iPhone. We will not be selling the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S to walk-in customers."

Previously, iPhones were sold on Apple's online stores on a "first come, first served" basis. But as the phones are getting more and more popular in China, many scalpers use the system by hiring batches of people to reserve iPhones as soon as they become available.

An official at Apple Shanghai, who asked not to be named, said: "We haven't received any information that Apple's online store on the mainland would use the lottery system. Customers who want to purchase one still have to wait till the next batch of items arrive."

Apple canceled sales of its iPhone 4S at Apple Stores in Shanghai and Beijing on January 13 "to ensure customer safety" after it said all the phones sold out the day its latest smartphone model was launched on the mainland.

At least several hundred people, including Apple fans and scalpers, gathered at each of the five Apple Store outlets on the mainland - three in Shanghai and two in Beijing - waiting all night for the iPhone 4S debut.

In Beijing, some migrant scalpers who had waited all night long only to see the stores remained closed threw eggs and shouted at employees through the windows.

The new lottery reservation system has sparked heated discussion online.

"How does the craze start? I'm quite stunned by the popularity of the expensive smartphone which can only be purchased in the lucky draw," was a comment left by "Seasons" on

Others doubted if the lottery system would combat scalpers as "they can still hire hundreds of students clicking their mouse to try their luck every day," was one comment.



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