Loyal Apple fans risk it all by buying grey-market devices in UAE
Apple fans in the UAE, hungry to be the first proud owners of the newly released iPhone 4S, are snapping up grey-market smartphones after the second-generation mobile device was officially launched last Friday in North America.
Authorised models of the iPhone 4S won’t likely arrive in the UAE until November to be sold by Apple-approved distributors with complete warranties.
Faisal Al Bannai, chief executive officer of Axiom Telecom, an authorised distributor, told Gulf News yesterday that it won’t be distributing the phones for weeks to come. “Unfortunately, the iPhone 4S is still not officially available in the UAE,” Al Bannai said. “We are looking at a UAE launch sometime in November.”
Late November will also likely see UAE telecoms du and etisalat launch new authorised iPhone 4S packages with reduced up-front payments for the new phones followed by monthly payments to offset the price of the devices as well as cover data packages. Neither du nor etisalat could be reached for comment yesterday.
Until then, loyal Apple fans are willing to pay much higher prices for grey market phones and be among the first to have the new mobile device that touts an operating system twice as fast as the first iPhone4 as well as Siri, voice recognition software being hailed as the next big thing.
Sherrif Rizwan, CEO and founder of AlShop.com, said he took delivery of 350 of the iPhone 4S models on Saturday and within hours had sold more than 250 of them. He expected to sell the remainder yesterday or later today given a solid influx of enquiries about the new phone.
Strong sales have eclipsed one-day sales by the company of other Apple products, including former models of the iPhone4 and various iPads. “We have crossed all past boundaries of the iPhone4, iPad and iPad2,” Rizwan told Gulf News yesterday.
Demand is so high that customers have placed pre-orders for the new device despite the fact that the costs are radically higher in the UAE for the new phone than in North America. “We had pre-order customers who agreed to pay premium prices to get the very first ones,” he said.
Compared to the lowest quoted iPhone 4S model as sold in the United States through a telecom carrier of $199 (Dh730), the grey market device here is selling for almost 10 times as much.
AlShop.com was yesterday selling the new iPhone 4S 16GB model for Dh5,999, the 32GB model for Dh6,999 and the 64GB model for Dh7,999. Despite concerns over the last year by buyers that warranties were not valid when buying grey market items because they were not bought from an official distributor, Rizwan assured buyers that phones sold through AlShop.com come with a one-year warranty.
If an iPhone 4S sold by AlShop.com is defective, Rizwan said the device will be returned to the store where it was purchased in the United Kingdom, where it will be fixed by an authorised Apple dealer.