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  • White iPhone 4 Kits Bring Teen $130K & Threats


    A 17-year-old in New York City who bought parts from China to make white iPhone 4 conversion kits has made a pile of money… and a potentially dangerous enemy. Fei Lam, a high school senior from Queens, says he's gotten a threatening letter from a private investigator accusing him of selling stolen goods, and thinks it sounds a lot like the legal threats Apple made against the kid who found/stole the iPhone 4 test unit back in April.

    Lam - like many iPhone users - was tired of waiting for the white iPhone 4. But unlike many iPhone users in the US, he speaks fluent Mandarin and has contacts at Apple's manufacturer in China. Working through "a guy from a few years back that had somewhat of a relationship with folks in Foxconn," Lam was able to get what he claims are authentic iPhone 4 white screens, digitizers, bezels, home buttons and case backs. He started repacking and shipping the kits from his parents' house, but was losing money on the deal until he figured out how to have the parts shipped direct. After his story was picked up by TechCrunch, sales went through the roof.

    That's when the trouble began.

    Lam told the New York Observer he got a “threatening” letter from a private investigator who claims the parts are stolen, which Lam says he is "100 percent sure is not the case." The investigator did not identify who he is working for, but Lam - and common sense - says it is Apple. "There are a couple of other sellers online and somehow I'm the 'focus' of it all," Lam says. "I think this guy is just trying to scare me into stop selling on behalf of Apple."

    Meanwhile, Lam says he has no intention of shutting down his website, WhiteiPhone4Now.com, which is still online and still taking orders. He's going to use the money to "bootstrap my first startup and help pay for college," he says: Lam plans to go to New York University next year, majoring in computer science or business.

    Source: TiPB
    This article was originally published in forum thread: White iPhone 4 Kits Bring Teen $130K & Threats started by Paul Daniel Ash View original post
    Comments 97 Comments
    1. Chityuulay's Avatar
      Chityuulay -
      leave him alone. no one forcing anyone to buy his product.
    1. Tyronal's Avatar
      Tyronal -
      Quote Originally Posted by Chityuulay View Post
      leave him alone. no one forcing anyone to buy his product.
      Um, the items are either counterfeit or stolen. Either way, they're not licensed for sale. Regardless whether it's Apple or not, it is illegal to sell stolen or counterfeit goods. Why do you think the music and movie industry spends so much money to prosecute piracy? Our company deals in IT stuff and we wouldn't get away with this, not for a second. Why should this guy be any different. Anyone who thinks this is ok is supporting piracy and theft. It's black and white, so to speak.....
    1. Meglomaniac's Avatar
      Meglomaniac -
      well the white iphone 4 isnt released yet to my knowledge.
      And since it has been claimed to be because of high demand.

      So how can someone be selling original white iphone parts if apple did not even have enough of them to sell...
      Besides arent these parts be used in warrenty related issues only at least i never seen apple selling parts.

      So hence they must be stolen if original they are stolen at the original factory.
      And this kind of stuff does not help the release of a white iphone.

      I actually like the white iphone 4 as it was the original collor on the apple's products that got the company up again.
      I am waiting for the white iphone 4 just because of that reason.
    1. raduga's Avatar
      raduga -
      Quote Originally Posted by Tyronal View Post
      Um, the items are either counterfeit or stolen. Either way, they're not licensed for sale. Regardless whether it's Apple or not, it is illegal to sell stolen or counterfeit goods. Why do you think the music and movie industry spends so much money to prosecute piracy? Our company deals in IT stuff and we wouldn't get away with this, not for a second. Why should this guy be any different. Anyone who thinks this is ok is supporting piracy and theft. It's black and white, so to speak.....
      I'm not (yet) convinced its a black and white scam,
      but that uncertainty is based on some pretty generous assumptions and limited knowledge on my part.

      If what you wrote in message #41 is accurate, much of my reasoning falls apart. But the gist is- a possibility that the parts could be neither stolen nor counterfeit.

      "Not being licensed for sale" would surely violate contractural agreements between the suppliers and Apple, but wouldn't inherently mark something as "stolen" or "counterfeit".

      The music, movie, software industries' war on "piracy" is both similar and different. They're fighting copyright infringement (this fight is a Good Thing) but the means by which they do it, by conflating infringement with "theft" and "criminal violence on the high seas" does grave disrespect to all entities involved.

      When copyright is infringed by unlicensed distribution and use, the major element of "theft" would be loss of compensation from anticipated sales. By default, there is no "right to copy" for most materials outside of an amorphous notion of Fair Use, so copying without permission generally breaks the law and may violate other contractural agreements. Its not theft in the usual sense, as revenue and "exclusive right of use" are the only significant things being deprived, but I will agree with you that the Intellectual Property industries have been successful in confusing and conmingling the laws and regulations to the point where all these slanders are lumped together as one.

      Re: Foxconn
      Someone (almost definitely) transferred materials to third parties in violation of license and contract. If the parts in question weren't (yet) owned by Apple, and if Foxconn was compensated for this transfer, it might not have been out-and-out theft.

      If Foxconn wasn't compensated, if the parts were already owned by Apple, if bribery or deception were involved (any of these, or others I may have overlooked) then I'm afraid the case is white and white after all.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      Good for him, now hopefully that it's been made public the letters will stop and he can continue to make bank in peace!
    1. alphonso's Avatar
      alphonso -
      make a red one and ill buy for sure...
      How about a pink iPhone 4 for my girlfriend, just make as many colors as you can jejejeje...
    1. baRRy boRRis's Avatar
      baRRy boRRis -
      What a shame the white iPhone is disgusting, it looks retarded. Credit where credit is due; $130k, not too shabby.
    1. Saved0ne's Avatar
      Saved0ne -
      Quote Originally Posted by law111 View Post
      What a smart kid, why didn't I think of that..?

      Minus the part of now having Apple as a potential enemy.
      Yeah same here, haha go Lam!
    1. xclusiveiphone's Avatar
      xclusiveiphone -
      This is no different from obtaining a box of iPhone 4 months before it's release and selling it. Clearly illegal as apple never released it to the public, this kid is in deep water and will drown soon.
    1. feidhlim1986's Avatar
      feidhlim1986 -
      Ok, none of us know the exact legal mumbo jumbo involved here. For all we know Foxconn would be well within their rights to sell these parts. The guy could be buying these parts legit from Foxconn, if Foxconn aren't supposed to be selling him these parts then it's their problem not the one guy who seems to be able to do what Apple don't seem to.

      I don't understand why you need to buy a new LCD and Digitizer, couldn't you just use the one's from your existing iPhone?
      Also, it's not gonna have your serial number printed on the back of the iPhone, just sayin.
    1. Nitsson's Avatar
      Nitsson -
      Quote Originally Posted by h2a View Post
      why isn't anyone mentioning the fact that you have to be completely out of your mind to pay $300+ to have your iPhone converted to white.
      Finally, a sane voice!
    1. maddawg05's Avatar
      maddawg05 -
      About a month back, I saw an ad on craigslist here in FL for a white iPhone 4 asking $1500....WTF. Looked good in pics. Apple def dropped the ball on this one, by not releasing the white version. Mr. Lam=entrepreneur.
    1. slavipz's Avatar
      slavipz -
      In Bulgaria we have a saying that in English sounds something like "It's not to blame the one who is eating the pie, but the one who is giving it to the one"... I really can't believe that there would be people willing to spend 300$ on for turning their Iphone into white... vanity is something that makes people do unreasonable things... shame on you... and greeting to the boy !
    1. Flaming.llama's Avatar
      Flaming.llama -
      Jason Chen from gizmodo.com (who acquired the iPhone 4 in april) is probably a kid.
    1. madczech's Avatar
      madczech -
      Quote Originally Posted by Flaming.llama View Post
      Jason Chen from gizmodo.com (who acquired the iPhone 4 in april) is probably a kid.
      What do you wanna say with that??
    1. coolguy742's Avatar
      coolguy742 -
      nice job on this, I just really hope those parts aren't stolen from an Apple factory
    1. mm8's Avatar
      mm8 -
      This just goes to show that Apple dropped the ball with the hardware design with this iphone 4. First the antenna issue, now they can't get the white model to market, sure because of a hardware issue. I have to say that their hardware engineer suck !!!
    1. ipodslinger's Avatar
      ipodslinger -
      I would like to give props to the kid. He is truly an entrepreneur and deserves to make money. CHINA, ad it's economy is built on knocking off everything. They do it all day everyday. They have been knocking off Apples parts since they could. Now its a big deal. Apple doesn't sell parts for the iPhone in the USA, they are a marketing company. The vendors that make the parts which could range well above 1000 for a single iPhone Design probably sell prototypes to companies who knock off. That's the nature of Chinese Goods. We as consumers love this. If apple was smart they would adopt a company policy of actually repairing devices. but they don't, they want you to throw it away and buy a new one. That is the Apple business plan. So if an entrepreneur comes up with a great idea and sells it and makes Apple look stupid, it is only Apples fault for thinking they "own" your iphone after it is purchased, bought and sold 10 times over. When does it stop.
    1. LSZ33's Avatar
      LSZ33 -
      Oh well, Apple should've released the white iPhone from the beginning. The Black iphone had defects so what would've been the difference between the 2? I'm sure Apple is making more money by only releasing one color phone b/c now there is one decision to make... 16GB or 32GB. They just narrowed your options making your decision, an easier one.
    1. saunupe1911's Avatar
      saunupe1911 -
      Speaking fluent Mandarin is what helped him solidify this hustle. He was able to communicate to his supplier. He didn't do anything spectacular, but it was something that no one thought of. He cut out the middle man and went straight to the supplier and is making a helluva profit. Sounds a lot like the drug trade doesn't it?

      Good for him though. He is smart and a natural born hustler. That equals wealth