Fruity peddler of broken iPhones, Apple is leaning on a kid for doing what it can’t manage – making a white iPhone 4. Apple has been putting off making a white iPhone 4 until next March because it claims that it is pretty tricky. This has apparently opened the market for those who think it is a doddle, like this kid from New York City.
It is such an easy task that Fei “Phil” Lam, 17, from New York, has been cashing in by flogging a converter kit that turns black iPhone 4s into white ones. Apple’s response has been to send the boys around. According to the Sydney Morning Herald Lam claims that Jobs’ Mob had sent around a private dick to try and gag him from selling the kits. He also claims he had Apple shut down his eBay listings too.
So far he has made about $30,000 to $40,000 from the kits which cost up to $279 each. What is doubly embarrassing for Apple is that the kits use parts supplied by the suicide plagued Foxconn, which makes the iPhone in China. The question is then, if Lam can make a White iPhone using kit from Apple’s own supplier, why can’t Apple?
The answer might be in the price tag. Lam said it costs him a lot to bring the components for the kits into the country and he does not have a high mark up. It might be that it is too expensive for Jobs’ Mob to get its traditional high mark-up for a white case. It might be that Apple does not have to take too much action against Lam – after he has made a bit of dosh he plans to go to college. Lam says he is an Apple fanboy, but admits he does not own an iPhone. Apparently, despite all the cash he has made he does not think he can afford one. This is how someone ends up being a billionaire before they are 20.
Chat interview with Fei “Phil” Lam
SMH: Okay. First up, great idea. How did you come up with this?
Phil Lam: Thanks. It just sort of came to me.
SMH: Have you always been an Apple/iPhone fan?
Phil Lam: [I] saw that the parts were available and [that the] official release [had been] delayed. [I’m] a huge Apple fanboy here.
SMH: So you were disappointed when the white iPhone release was delayed?
Phil Lam: I don’t own an iPhone though.
SMH: You don’t own an iPhone because you couldn’t afford one, as a student? Is that right?
Phil Lam: That too.
SMH: Ok. Tell me about the private investigator. Why do you think he’s working for Apple?
Phil Lam: He works for a anti-counterfeit/trademark firm … [using] the same [methods] used to bring down eBay listings by Apple. Of course I hope it’s not Apple.
SMH: So the parts are quite expensive, like over $200 for the front and back. It’s only a shell, why is it so costly?
Phil Lam: It’s not too far from how much I get them even at bulk.
SMH: I’ve read you’ve made over $100K in just a couple of weeks, is that correct? Any buyers from Australia?
Phil Lam: That number is bull. I made only 30-40k. [The] 100k was income before cost of [the] product. Every time a site picks up the story it changes a little bit.
SMH: That’s why I wanted to ask you and get the truth.
SMH: Just to check a few other things: you are 17? What are you making the money for? I read to fund college. And is that fuzzy photo of you really you?
Phil Lam: I did not expect to get so much attention.
SMH: Yea, I was going to say. You must be surprised and excited about how quickly this story has spread. Your 15 minutes of fame? Or do you intend to make it last a bit longer?
SMH: By that I mean are you an entrepreneurial kind of guy, or just a typical teenager. Are you the next Mark Zuckerberg?
Phil Lam:To answer your previous question, I’m turning 18 in half a month.
SMH: And the question about your entrepreneurial instincts?
Phil Lam: I intend to go to college for at least 1-2 years.
SMH: To study computer science, I’ve read. Is that correct?
Phil Lam: To be honest, I am starting a stealthy start up. Or business.
SMH: OK. So you are an entrepreneurial guy. No hints at what the start up is about?
Phil Lam: I’ve told a bit to Fast Company and basically it’s a super simplistic way to connect with another person online. I know it’s a bit vague.
SMH: That sounds like social.
Phil Lam: But I’ll have it launched pretty soon, before the year ends.