Remember the claims of racial profiling and discrimination against Chinese people at the SoHo Apple Store, as well as the one in the Meatpacking District? Now the NY Times confirms what was suspected: Many Chinese immigrants are buying Apple products to be resold in China, where they aren't available (yet).
Participants in New York and Shanghai say 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.
People in line told the Times they were "buying the iPhone for a friend" and if they went in the store to buy another, "I have two friends." And friends say that the import-export business pays: A Sunset Park resident explained, "Many workers make a few dollars an hour working in restaurants or factories. If they wait in line for an hour at the Apple store to buy and sell phones, they can make $300 in a single morning." They better make their money fast—the iPhone 4 is on sale this Saturday in China.