First, why would anyone want to smuggle iPhones into the country that assembles them?
Apple products such as the iPhone can fetch a very high price in countries or places where Apple does not disrupted or has a limited operation. I know many people who will send hard to get products such as the iPhone to family members in countries such as Iran. Once there, they can easily fetch 32m in Iranian Rial or around $1,100 USD.
While Iran can’t import because of US sanctions, China does not have that problem. China is suffering from the huge supply and demand of the new iPhone 6. Apple will sell first in the US, then sell to other countries. Lets not forget, the US is Apples largest market.
The new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are hard to get in the PRC. This has resulted in a large price increase for the real product and has fueled counterfeits and smuggling. The new iPhone can cost between RMB 12,000 to 15,000 ($1,950 to $2,440) for low-end models, but prices are now down to RMB 6,500 to 8,800 ($1,060 to $1,430).
When a Hong Kong man was spotted “walking strangely” across the border into mainland China his jerky movements aroused suspicion among customs officials.
Further investigations revealed the reason for his discomfort – he was found to have 94 iPhones strapped to his body and legs.
Officers saw the man, wearing a tracksuit and carrying two plastic bags, walking with stiff movements, “as if he was carrying something heavy”, at the Futian border control point at about 8pm on Sunday, the People’s Daily’s affiliated people.com.cn reported.
The gadgetry set off a security alarm and an examination by customs officials revealed the collection of iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s models bound tightly to his chest, stomach and thighs.
Investigators said the gadgets were worth more than 300,000 yuan (about HK$380,000).
These are real iPhones he is attempting to move into mainland China.
What was he thinking?
I am not talking about smuggling iPhones. He did that for the money. But why such a obvious way. Customs between Hong Kong and China is easy to bypass. He could have just mailed them there. However, taping products to oneself to smuggle is very common in China. It is a riskless and you wont get in trouble with the law. He is not the only one. Just one that got caught. Even on the US-Mexico border, people are caught smuggling $4.7 million across the border every day with no consequences when caught.
The demand in China of Apple products is very large. Counterfeit or real.
In my last business, which I imported many mobile accessories I learned many things from talking to my Chinese suppliers. Each would tell me that having a iPhone is a very large status symbol. Having one means you have money. Well I guess that is true considering a iPhone is about a monthly salary for the average worker over there. Having a symbol such as a iPhone can go very far in China, especially in regards to the gender ratio.