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Non-Smuggled, Non-Knockoff iPhone Available In China Starting Saturday

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This Saturday, the Apple iPhone will officially go on sale in China, priced at about $750 for the 16-gig model.

This should put a damper on the organized gray market iPhone trade that currently exists between sellers in New York and buyers in Shanghai.

According to the New York Times, the process works like this:

"People wait in line at an Apple store to buy the newest iPhone for $600, paying a premium to skip the AT&T contract. They then sell the phones to middlemen, usually at electronics stores in Chinatown, for about $750.

"The phones are shipped off to China, where the iPhone 4 is not yet on sale, and are distributed to local shops and e-commerce sites, where they sell for as much as $1,000. Once the phones have been “unlocked” to break their ties to AT&T, they can be used with local carriers."

The Times says the phones are "often brought into the country by people who hide them in their bags or even tape them to their bodies. More organized smugglers will bring in 100 or more iPhones a day, and some will put phones into a shipping container with other goods."

That is, when Chinese customers in the US are permitted to buy them. In June, New York State attorney general Andrew Cuomo began an investigation after reports surfaced that Apple stores were refusing to sell iPhones to Asians. However, it seems that the threat of official intervention was enough to change Apple's (unofficial, we hope) policy.

Here's the thing, though: what Apple doesn't seem to understand is that iPhones have already been on sale in China since before the gadget was even available in the States:

Welcome to China iPhone. Or, should I say, welcome back to China. They are made there, after all.
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