The new iPad is official, with Retina display, LTE and A5X chip, but it’s 0.6mm thicker and 0.07lbs heavier than the iPad 2. Apple announced that the new iPad will go on sale in U.S. on March 16th, with pre-orders open today. Other countries like Canada, the UK, Australia, France, Germany, Japan and Hong Kong are getting it on the same date as well. Another batch of 26 countries will get the new iPad on March 23rd. Surprisingly, there’s no word on a China launch date.
We all know China is Apple’s fastest-growing market: with just five of the company’s stores, it accounts for one-sixth of its global sales. Apple has even stated several times that China is critical to its growth. However, China is not the first to get the new iPad, and the country is not even listed in the second batch of 26 countries. Any reasons?
The New iPad Will Launch in Hong Kong First
Hong Kong will be the first to get the new iPad in what Apple calls “Greater China,” a region where the new iPad launch will fire up another round of Apple Fever. In Hong Kong, the new iPad will be priced starting at HK$ 3,888 ($500) for the 16GB WiFi-only model, HK$ 4,688 ($604) for 32GB and HK$ 5,488 ($707) for 64GB. Sadly, there’s no 4G LTE models for sale in Hong Kong, as the LTE chip inside the new iPad only supports AT&T and Verizon in the United States and Rogers, Telus and Bell in Canada.
The reason why Hong Kong gets the new iPad first is that Apple have found the people of Hong Kong to be Apple fanatics. And because the new iPad sells for $115 less in Hong Kong than the mainland China, people from the mainland will travel to Hong Kong for purchase. Smuggling problem may be seen, but Apple see this as a good sign, considering how the sales will be boomed up when gray market dealers from Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing travel to the Hong Kong Apple store to purchase the new iPads in large quantity. By saying large quantity, one may buy 10-20 units of iPads.
You may not know, the original iPad took more than five months to reach China after the U.S. launch. For the iPad 2, Chinese customers finally got to see it two months after the U.S. launch. So, how long will it be going to take for the new iPad to launch in China? Well, instead of waiting, Apple decided to make use of the two countries near the mainland China, which are Hong Kong and Macau.
The Mainland Chinese Will Visit Hong Kong and Macau to Buy The New iPad
Both Hong Kong and Macau are Special Autonomous Regions of China, where they have their own currency/economy, political leaders, police force, and immigration policies, but China supplies defense and foreign affairs. China says that Hong Kong and Macau can be treated as if they’re part of “One Country [China]” but operate on “two [different] systems”. So, regardless of whether it’s part of China, mainland Chinese still need to get entrance visas to visit Hong Kong or Macau.
By getting an entrance visa, a mainland Chinese is able to visit Hong Kong or Macau. Apple sees this point, and they made use of it. By launching the new iPad in Hong Kong and Macau, people from mainland China will no doubt get entrance visas to travel to either one of these places, in order to get the new iPad. Hong Kong is a mere 40 minute train ride from Shenzhen, and Macau is just 5 minutes walk away from Gongbei in Zhuhai (a province in China). So, let’s say if a gray market dealer from Shenzhen wants to get large quantities of the new iPad, he/she could ask helpers to travel to Hong Kong by train, and get the new iPads back to Shenzhen.
Last year, when the iPad 2 is launched, the Chinese gray market dealers purchased the iPad 2 overseas, and then smuggled the tablets back to mainland China. Since Hong Kong and China were not the first countries to have the iPad 2, the locals paid a hefty premium for the new tablet. That’s how the gray market dealers earn a living, and that’s why you are seeing a lot of ziplines and guys walking through customs with stuff taped to themselves.
Apple Is Still Fixing Its Chinese iPad Trademark
With the iPad 3’s official launch, many in China are expecting Apple to settle with Proview, as it has in past trademark scrapes. As we reported previously, Proview claimed to own the iPad name in China. The Chinese company argued that when Apple bought the iPad trademark, the iPad maker never bought their right to the trademark so the iPad was infringing on their copyright in China. Until now, the problem is not fixed yet. So, maybe this is also the reason why there’s no word from Apple on launching the new iPad in China.
One More Thing
Apple has dropped the price on all iPad 2 models in China too. Chinese Apple fanboys will be grateful for this price drop.
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