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We here at RocketNews24 are no strangers to the lengths people will go to for the latest Apple product. And when we first heard about the new iPad Air, we knew we wanted to get our hands on one. But since merely buying the newest iPad was not enough of a challenge, we set out to buy an unlocked model that could be used on any wireless network in Japan.

Unfortunately, it seems like that is not an option in Japan, which led one of our reporters from RocketNews24 Japan, Takashi Harada, on a trip to Hong Kong to try to get one of the hottest devices of the season! It turned out to be quite the adventure.

Calling up Hong Kong

Before making the trip to Hong Kong, Takashi called up several stores there to ask about the logistics of buying an iPad while visiting the city. Apple store employees said that any store there would have an unlocked iPad available the morning of the launch on November 1. And with a little patience, it would be possible to buy one without making any sort of reservation. Although they did say that some foreigners visiting Hong Kong would buy their iPad at midnight of the launch day and have it sent to their hotel.

Frustration and some odd advice

Right before Takashi made the trip, he got a new set of instructions from the Hong Kong stores. Apparently demand was so high there that to have any chance of snagging an iPad on launch day, people were required to pre-buy one online the day before. So Takashi went onto the site when the pre-sell began at 9:00 AM, but soon found out he needed a Hong Kong cell phone to make the purchase. By the time he tried to find a way to get a cell phone number there, all iPad models were sold out. Disaster!

Disappointed, he called several stores to see if there was any hope. Which is when he got some strange, but intriguing advice. Many employees nonchalantly let him know that they expected many “iPad scalpers” to hawk their newly bought devices outside of the stores on launch day. They even told Takashi which store to go to for the best chance at finding the most resellers!

ifc mall

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Many of the Apple employees suggested that the store at the high-end ifc mall would be the best place to spot resellers. Apparently, the luxury shopping centre has a reputation among employees for having a very lively launch day with plenty of “professional shoppers” that are more than happy to sell you their new iPad. For a price, of course.

The sign

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With the spot picked out, the next step was to figure out some way to get the attention of a reseller. Takashi decided that a sign would be the best bet to stick out among the other prospective buyers. It was going to be a tough battle to find an iPad on launch day, and he needed every opportunity to make sure the resellers noticed him! Summoning his very best English, he scribbled the note above.

Judgement Day

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Takashi got to the store an hour before opening. There was a huge line full of people who had probably all reserved their iPad. About 100 people were hovering around the entrance, who our keen-eyed reporter recognized as opponents in this battle for an unlocked iPad. It was clear that competition was going to be fierce with so many other wannabe iPad owners present.

▼ Takashi’s opponents outside the store in the battle to buy an iPad

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Upping the ante

Among the people outside waiting for the store to open, there were two Western-looking men with a sign that was offering an extra HK$500 (US$64) for an iPad on top of its retail price. It became clear that this sign was getting the attention of the resellers as they were getting approached by some. Takashi got close to the pair and smoothly listened in on one of the conversations.

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The negotiations broke down when the duo refused to offer more than HK$500. The resellers wanted closer to HK$800, but the two guys would not budge. From this conversation, Takashi knew he would have to change his strategy and up his offer.


After talking to a couple of resellers, Takashi was looking at spending a total of $HK5700 (US$735), including the “reseller surcharge.” Considering that Takashi had just gone all the way to Hong Kong to buy an iPad, there was no way he could return to Japan without one, at least not without incurring the wrath of his fearsome RocketNews24 boss. He was going to have to just eat this expense.


After a successful negotiation with one reseller, Takashi moved to complete the transaction in a nearby stairwell. Apparently, while security does not mind your sign declaring an intention to buy marked-up items from iPad scalpers, they would rather you not openly buy and sell goods in front of them, which seems fair!

The reseller showed our reporter that the box contained the right iPad model and he answered all of his questions quite nicely. He even let us get a picture!

▼ Our man Takashi (R) with his new reseller friend (L)

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The resellers

It looked like there were about 40 resellers, all men, there that morning. They seemed to all belong to a group of professional resellers from Shanghai and work in pawn shops in Hong Kong. They said that they really like their job, especially on days like an iPad launch where they got to meet foreign tourists. Takashi came out of the experience with a positive view of the resale business. He was impressed by their cheerful disposition and smiling faces. We can hardly blame them for seeing an opportunity to make money out of tech nerds like us who buy a new iPad just for the sake of it!

After getting his iPad and looking back on the experience, Takashi says that it was overall a pretty painless way to get an unlocked iPad. And if Apple woos him again with another product in the future, he might be making another trip to Hong Kong!

Have you ever bought something from a reseller that did not go quite this smoothly or left you feeling scammed? Or does this the idea of dropping a little extra cash sound better than camping outside an Apple Store?

Images: RocketNews24
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