by Joe White
January 14, 2012
The launch of Apple's iPhone 4S in China descended into chaos yesterday, as intense crowds punctuated with professional scalpers forced an Apple Store in Beijing to postpone the handset's launch. Though iPhone launches always attract large numbers, in Beijing, we understand that the presence of scalpers - professionals who stand in line to purchase the handset, and later resell it at an inflated price - was a part of the issue. The extreme crowds meant the Apple Store in Beijing didn't open its doors at seven a.m. as expected, leaving these scalpers "particularly angry," as The New York Times reports:
Those recruited by scalpers were particularly angry. Some said the store’s closing meant that they would get only 10 renminbi, meant as a food allowance, after standing in line all night in freezing temperatures.At around 7:53 a.m., unhappy customers started throwing eggs at the Apple Store, and the scene quickly turned into pandemonium. Beijing SWAT teams eventually intervened. For now, Apple has noted (via Reuters) that it will not sell iPhone 4S handsets in either Beijing or Shanghai, in order to "ensure the safety of [the company's] customers." We'll keep you posted.