Couple 'sells baby' to buy iPhone

A Chinese couple are facing charges of human trafficking after being accused of selling their baby to buy an iPhone.

According to AFP, they are accused of handing their child over for adoption in return for cash, believed to be between £3,040 and £5,060, which they then spent on luxury goods.

But the couple told police that their motivation was not money but their inability to give the girl, their third child, a good life. "Giving away the child was not for obtaining benefits, but giving the child better guarantees," they said.

Apple's products are powerful status symbols in China, and there have been numerous reports of people going to extreme lengths to get hold of them. Last year, nine people were indicted for illegal organ trading after a 17-year-old schoolboy allegedly sold one of his kidneys to buy an iPhone and an iPad.

Every new launch is accompanied by a buying frenzy: last year, at the launch of the iPhone 4S, there was a near-riot after the Shanghai Apple Store refused to open. The new gold-coloured iPhone 5S is seen as particularly desirable in China, where it's been selling on the 'grey market' for £1,000 or more.

Historically, Apple products have been even more expensive in China than in the US or Europe. But with iPhones having reached near-saturation point in the company's home market of the US - 43 percent, according to the latest figures from Kantar Worldpanel - Apple has of late been courting Chinese users much more heavily.

The recent launch of the iPhone 5C - cheaper than previous models - has been widely seen as an attempt to create a mass market for the iPhone in the country. Unfortunately, though, it appears that the price - 3,500 yuan, or around £350 - isn't low enough. The phone faces stiff competition from locally produced, and much cheaper, models, as well as from earlier versions of the iPhone itself. Indeed, reports indicate that the company has scaled down production of the 5C following lower-than-expected sales.

"The audience for the traditional iPhone is saturating and the company is struggling to bank new users. This is especially true in emerging markets, particularly in China where local brands are now trying to match the iPhone experience at significantly lower prices," says Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media.

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