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Why Gold iPhones Are Worth Thousands
Why Gold iPhones Are Worth Thousands

By Jennifer LeClaire
September 25, 2013 10:43AM

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One analyst predicted Apple's gold iPhone 5s would be a hot seller even before the launch date. That's because many consumers who like the "bling" are apparently craving an iPhone that matches their other accessories. But will the gold iPhone 5s impact Apple's bottom line or just make a pile of money for the people selling them on eBay?
 

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iPhone
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For years, the Apple iPhone came in black only. When the white iPhone came out, it was all the rage. But the gold iPhone 5s is breaking the mold.

Based on the demand, and the prices at which the device are selling on eBay, you'd think the gold iPhone was 14-karat coated. With gold iPhones backordered -- Apple's Web site indicates they aren't shipping until October no matter what storage configuration or what wireless carrier you choose -- one buyer was willing to shell out $10,000 to get his hands one.

"Sold," reads the eBay listing for an "Apple iPhone 5S 16GB Gold Factory Unlocked Brand New VERY HARD TO FIND." The auction generated 51 bids and ended at $10,100 plus $46.70 for one-day shipping. The item sold with a 14-day money back guarantee, just in case the deep-pocketed winner has buyer's remorse.

Apple's Colorful Experiment

But it's not too late to get your hands on a gold iPhone 5S before Apple supply catches up with the demand. Several other eBay auctions are ongoing as of the time of this writing -- some with free shipping.

Twenty bidders have run the price of one auction up to $510. Another auction has seen 19 bidders raise the price to $610. Others have 48 bids that are up to $760 and 15 bids up to $810. Bids for a 64GB model are up to $3,300. The only thing special about these iPhones are the color.

Roger Entner, a wireless analyst at Recon analytics, predicted the gold iPhones would be a hot seller even before the launch date. Many consumers who like the "bling" are apparently craving a phone that matches their other accessories. But will the gold iPhone really impact Apple's bottom line or just make put a pile of money in the pockets of a few eBayers? Will it make a difference in revenues?

Apple sells the gold devices for the same price as iPhones in any other color: for $199 for the 16GB model and $299 for 32GB model and $399 for the 64GB model. But the company may be wishing it had charged a premium for the gold devices. Other than the white iPhone, this is the first real colorful experiment for Apple, which also pushed out the iPhone 5c in blue, green, pink, yellow and white. None of them has seen the market response of the gold model.

Still Wanted: Larger Screen

"Selling a lot of phones looks good on reports and I think Apple can gain market share in the next two quarters, but then the next Android phone will come out with substantial new capabilities to it," Entner told us. "Ultimately, Apple has to think about whether or not, in such rapidly innovating environment, they can maintain changing the form factor only once every two years."

As Entner and many others see it, Apple is lacking in screen size compared to other popular devices. Many hoped Apple would offer iPhones with larger screens a la Samsung in the most recent refresh, but instead the tech giant focused on the value market.

"The Apple screen size was a little bit small the last time around and now they are definitely too small," Entner said. "Larger screens are more suitable for video consumption. By now 60 percent of the mobile traffic is video. People are definitely watching video on these devices. The larger the screen and more vibrant the screen the better."
 

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