Stu Maschwitz on Casey Neistat’s iPhone 6 ‘Black Market’ Movie

Casey Neistat made waves over the weekend with a short film documenting the mercenary nature of the lines outside Apple Stores in New York City for the iPhones 6. And yes, a seemingly overwhelming number of the line-waiters were Asian, many of them non-English speakers. I noticed the same thing in Portland last year, when XOXO was scheduled the same weekend as the iPhone 5S and 5C going on sale. My hotel was across the street from Portland’s downtown Apple Store, the queue stretched all the way around the block and most of the people waiting in line seemed to be non-English-speaking Asians, not the least bit enthused about the iPhone itself.

Things have certainly changed from 2007, when the lines for the original iPhone were like Apple fan club meetings. But so what? The world has changed. Apple only sold about 6 million of the original iPhone in the course of a year. They will sell well over 100 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units before we’re here again with next year’s new models.

Count me with Stu Maschwitz: this film is pointless, and I think more than a little racist. When you can wait in line, pay $1000 for a new 6 Plus, then walk out of the store and resell it immediately for $1500 or more, that’s going to attract people who want to buy them for no reason other than to flip them. And I guarantee you not everyone waiting in line (or as they say in New York, on line) Friday morning to buy new iPhones just to flip them was Asian. And if the going rate in mainland China is over $2,500, as Quartz is reporting, then it makes all the more sense, simply as capitalism at work, that many of the line-waiters are Chinese-Americans looking to turn a profit.

The problems start right with the title: reselling iPhones is not “black market”. “Black market” means illegal, and there is nothing illegal about reselling a legally purchased iPhone. These phones are gray market, at worst. The leaked iPhone 6 units that came out of the supply chain weeks ago — those were black market goods.

Monday, 22 September 2014