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Undersupply of iPhones in Australasia means consumers are going to extreme lengths to get the much sought after device.The shortage of the iPhone4, released inJune this year, which is currently unavailable from legitimate retailers in China has led consumers to resort to the black market in order to get their hands on it, providing a boon for the electronics black market in the region.

Last month, Chinese police seized on 50 million yuan (around $750 million) worth of illegal electrical goods with, a large proportion of the haul said to contain Apple’s iPhone.

8,000 smugglers are frantically crossing Chinese customs bringing goods from Hong Kong and Macao “like ants,” a large proportion of which includes iPhones, just to keep up with demand, as reported by the Beijing Times earlier this week.

Smuggling the iPhone is now a highly lucrative industry for illegal traders, with prices now rocketing by 1,000 yuan, equivalent to AU$150.

Scalpers are taking advantage of China Unicom’s loopholes in bonding its set menu and iPhones and divided telephone cards and phones in order to sell them separately, although the telecoms provider are currently trying to prevent this from being enabled by cutting off consumers who are found to be in possession of such a device.

Production is also failing to keep up with escalating demand as FoxConn, the Chinese manufacturer of the  iPhone, currently produces 138,000 phones per day, which is only  one third of the global requirements.

 
Australian consumers are also said to be resorting to Machiavellian style measures including threatening their mobile provider to move to a competitor if they fail to provide them with a device under their current pay plan.  

iPhone crazed consumers are also talking to staff and becoming familiar with delivery dates and times and keeping a quasi vigil outside the premises, similar to the long queues which greeted  the launch of the iPad.

Consumers have being paying top dollar to purchase the phone outright rather than be placed on a long waiting list, in a bid to acquire the iPhone 4 before Christmas.

To purchase the fourth generation iPhone outright costs in the region of $859 for the 16GB iPhone 4, while the 32GB version retails at around $999.

If consumers are wishing to purchase the phone through a plan, they have to join a long waiting list.

A quick straw poll of mobile providers reveals customers in some cases are being given them on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis,’ although one Optus store said they did expect delivery in the next few weeks prior to Christmas, but “were not certain.”

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