In a world where people weigh their next smartphone purchase as much as their next car, some phones are bound to be blockbusters. They sell out within hours of their launch and are hard to come by for months. The iPhone, for example, is a victim of excessively high demand every year and Apple struggles to meet that demand.
Google and LG are currently facing the same supply issue with the Nexus 4. Google chose to sell the Nexus 4, sans contract, for merely $299 for the 8GB model and $349 for the larger 16GB version. And before launch day ended, the Nexus 4 was sold out. In fact, Google oversold Nexus 4 units and moved many of the first-round purchases to backorder with expected shipping times of three weeks.
Ever since, Nexus 4 units have been somewhat of a hot commodity, popping up in the usual places for absurd prices.
On eBay, new in box Nexus 4 units are going for anywhere from $425 to $640, depending on capacity. And the crazy thing is, they're selling like hotcakes. The top result when searching eBay yields an 8GB Nexus 4 for $549 and free shipping. The seller has more than 10 available and has already sold 43. Doing the math, that seller has made a profit in the ballpark of $8,600 of people who are unwilling to wait for the cheaper, direct-from-Play Store version to come back in stock.
What's even more mind boggling, however, is that there are 16GB models being sold on eBay by seller photon_express for $1,749.99 – a 500 percent markup. This seller has already moved 31 units, telling me that there are people definitely willing to spend more money to get the device they want without having to wait. I assume most of the buyers at this price range are from countries where the Nexus 4 is not offered since the seller offers worldwide shipping.
But Nexus 4 units keep popping up everywhere for significantly more than what Google initially priced them at. Supply and demand, as per usual.
Popular deals site Daily Steals is offering the 16GB Nexus 4 for $499 with free shipping. The more interesting detail, however, is that Daily Steals has the list price of the Nexus 4 set at $799.00, meaning a $499 price tag will save buyers $300 off the retail value. Those none the wiser might feel accomplished finding an "$800" phone for just $500.
We know better, though. (T-Mobile, certainly a more reputable outlet than Daily Steals, lists the suggested retail as $500 and sells the device for $199 with a two-year agreement.) But that won't stop some of you from buying the Nexus 4 at a higher price to beat out the indefinite wait times from the Play Store.
What I want to know, folks, is whether you are willing to pay more to get the device you want in a timely manner. Maybe it's not the Nexus 4. Maybe it's an international device that's taking forever to make it stateside. Or maybe it's an international device that will never arrive in the U.S. officially. Would you pay more just to get your hands on it?
Judging by the number of marked-up Nexus 4s on eBay, there is definitely some demand in overpriced smartphones that are in high demand.
Personally, I tend to be more frugal and prefer not to succumb to higher prices due to short supply. In the case of the Nexus 4, I wasn't terribly interested to begin with. But if, say, the Galaxy Note II didn't make it stateside so quickly, I likely would have found myself checking out the Negri Electronics or eXpansys USA websites daily, waiting for the price of importing the unlocked Galaxy Note II to dip below $700.
I've contemplated paying more for a device than I know it's worth, but I haven't ever actually pulled the trigger. As far as inflated prices on a device offered here in the States due to high demand, I doubt I would ever follow through.
I'm not a fan of putting more money in someone else's wallet because they bought devices at retail value in bulk so they could turn a profit when said devices went out of stock. Buying at wholesale and marking-up 120 percent over retail value is one thing. Buying at retail value and marking the price up 140 to 190 percent is thievery. I won't succumb to getting gypped.
Where do you stand, ladies and gents? Will you pay more than the retail value to land the device you want? Even if you might be able to buy it for retail value again in a few weeks? Or are you the type to wait it out?