Traders upbeat over new iPhone 4
Bien Perez in San Francisco and Simpson Cheung
Dealers are optimistic about strong sales for the latest Apple smartphone in the city despite disappointment that the device turned out not to be the eagerly awaited iPhone 5.
After Apple took the wraps off its updated iPhone 4S on Tuesday, Hong Kong parallel traders - who sell goods from sources other than official importers - said they would stock up in the hope that its new features would spur sales.
Kurt Lo King-yau, sales manager at Digital Action Telecom in Mong Kok, said he had received at least 20 orders for the new iPhone.
He said he would buy 100 and expected they would be sold out on the first day, despite a price tag of more than HK$10,000.
'[The price of] the current iPhone 4 reached as high as nearly HK$20,000 when it first came out,' Lo said. 'It is hard to say if the new phone will reach this level. It depends on the market reaction, but the purchasing sentiment has been accumulating for a year and a half.'
Another parallel trader, Lau Chi-kong, of G-World Mobile in Mong Kok, said he had received more than 30 orders for the new model. He expected the 16 gigabyte version would sell for HK$8,000 to HK$9,000, while more powerful models might exceed HK$10,000. But he was not very optimistic about prospects for sales.
'Although it has many new functions, the appearance is still the same as the iPhone 4,' he said. 'There will be fewer people willing to switch to the new phone.'
Apple says the 4s will be rolled out in 70 markets by the end of the year but no release date has been set for Hong Kong and the mainland.
While it looks the same as the iPhone 4, the new model packs a faster microprocessor, an improved camera, longer battery life, a new mobile operating system and a dual-mode antenna system that allows it to work on almost any mobile network worldwide.
It also features a voice-activated service called 'Siri', which serves as a user's 'personal assistant' and can answer questions like, 'will I need an umbrella this weekend?'
'Don't be deceived [by the appearance] because inside it is all new,' said Philip Schiller, the senior vice-president of worldwide product marketing at Apple.
Available in black and white, the iPhone 4S will be released in the United States, Canada, Britain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan on October 14. Pre-orders start tomorrow. It will be sold through the online Apple Store, the company's branded retail stores, carrier-partners and selected authorised resellers.
The rollout will continue in 22 more countries by the end of the month, including Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Noting that it would be available in more than 70 markets by the end of this year, Schiller said it was 'the fastest rollout we've ever had for the iPhone'.
The iPhone 4S will be the first to have a 64-gigabyte version, which will cost US$399 under a two-year contract with its partner mobile network operator. The 32GB version will sell for US$299, while the 16GB version will be priced at US$199.
In the US, Apple has stopped selling the 32GB and 16GB iPhone 4 models. It now only sells an 8GB iPhone 4 for US$99, while an 8GB iPhone 3GS is offered free under a carrier contract.