Apple, in an apparent attempt to deter scalpers, has introduced a new lottery system for customers in Hong Kong who want one of its smartphones.
A new page on Apple’s Hong Kong store Web site requires users to submit their personal information, including a government-issued ID number, to reserve an iPhone. Apple began selling the iPhone 4S in Hong Kong this past November.
The new lottery system allows users to request a device during a three-hour time period each day, between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. Those who are awarded a reservation will be notified via email before 9 p.m., and told what time they should come pick up the phone, Apple said.
Reservations for the popular phone were previously afforded to individuals on a first-come, first-served basis. But scalpers abused the system, creating automated programs to secure iPhone 4S reservations as soon as they were made available.
“Due to high demand, we are accepting a limited number of iPhone reservations per day,” reads the new reservation site, which was first reported by 9to5Mac.
Only those who receive an email reserving their confirmation will be able to receive the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S. Apple is not selling the devices to walk-in customers. To receive the phone, users will need to provide a government-issued ID that matches the name and ID number used to request the phone.
Earlier this month, Apple temporarily suspended sales of the iPhone 4S at its flagship store in Beijing due to large, chaotic crowds who gathered outside looking for an early purchase. the massive crowds weren’t just made up of Apple fans, but also included large groups of professional scalpers looking to buy up the coveted device for resale on the grey market at inflated prices. Scalpers had reportedly hired migrant workers to stand in line and buy the phone.
Meanwhile, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty this week predicted that Apple will over the next year add China Telecom and China Mobile to its iPhone distribution partners, a move that would make the phone available on all three Chinese carriers. doing so could ratchet the number of iPhone subscribers in China alone to 40 million in 2013.
For more, see PCMag’s review of the iPhone 4S and the slideshow below.
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