Ever since the release of the iPhone 4S was announced last year, pre-orders in countless countries have been dominated by scalpers using bots to buy up as many pre-order slots as they can to sell later to the highest bidders. Few places saw that more than Hong Kong, where demand for Apple products is reaching a fever pitch. In fact, the demand – partly due to scalpers unfairly buying up so many pre-orders and online orders – has created an impossible logjam for Apple stores in Hong Kong. In a classic example of a few unscrupulous people ruining things for everyone, getting an iPhone 4S in Hong Kong just got way more difficult.
Hong Kong residents must now visit Apple’s website and fill out a special online order form. That form will require complete contact information and a government ID number, in an effort to prevent the use of bots. From the pool of people who submit the new online form, Apple will randomly select eligible entries and award vouchers accordingly.
Already, some Apple Store locations in Hong Kong have had to be shut down because of unruly crowds, many of which consisted largely of poorer people hired by scalpers to stand in line to obtain the iPhone 4S. It’s a shame to see these kinds of measures enacted because of what, ultimately, is just a phone. Despite that, it could be for the better if it encourages more measures overall that work to prevent the scourge of scalping while keeping things fair for everyone else.