Apple Selling Unlocked iPhones in Hong Kong

From an AP report on Apple’s official unlocked phones in Hong Kong:

“Phone 3G purchased at the Apple Online Store can be activated with any wireless carrier,” it said on the site.

Offering free shipping, the 8-gigabyte phone goes for $5,400 Hong Kong dollars ($695) while the 16-gigabyte version costs HK$6,200 ($798).

Since the global rollout in July, Hong Kong buyers could only purchase the multimedia phone from Hutchison Telecommunications International Ltd. with a two-year mobile contract, even though the device was widely available on the black market.

At those prices — roughly $700/800 for 8/16 GB, respectively — I would presume it’s just as profitable for Apple, if not more so, than the subsidized iPhones including the carrier kick-back.

But why only in Hong Kong? Why not sell unlocked iPhone 3Gs at those prices everywhere? Is it that Hong Kong consumers are particularly willing to spend $800 on an unlocked phone? Or is it that the black market was particularly strong there?

Tuesday, 30 September 2008