A throng of customers have caused a riot at Apple Inc.'s Beijing store after the iPhone 4S launch there was canceled.
Today marked the iPhone 4S launch in China. Large clusters of customers waited overnight in order to pick up Apple’s popular smartphone device.
However, due to the large crowd’s size, Apple Inc’s Beijing store canceled the launch. This led to a riot from angry customers and gangs of scalpers. They proceeded to throw eggs at the store in frustration. Employees were reportedly scared for their safety due to customer threats.
The crowd reportedly erupted after the store failed to open on schedule at 7 a.m. A person with a megaphone announced the iPhone 4S sale was canceled. Police ordered the crowd to leave and sealed off the area with yellow tape. The Apple Store then posted a sign saying the iPhone 4S was currently out of stock.
Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu said, "We were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd, and to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, iPhone will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being.”
Wu offered no comments on what Apple knows about scalpers buying iPhones for resale.
Apple reacted to the outburst by postponing iPhone 4S sales in its mainland China stores. However, customers will still be able to purchase the iPhone 4S online and through its local carrier.
This incident highlighted Apple's huge popularity in China. It also brought up the issue of middlemen who buy up limited supplies of iPhones and smuggle them from abroad for resale to Chinese gadget fans at a markup price.
The iPhone 4S quickly sold out at other Apple stores in China. Wu said the phone still will be sold in China through Apple's online store, its local carrier China Unicom Ltd. and other authorized resellers.
Other tech stores in China, such as the Shanghai area, sold the iPhone 4S with no signs of rioting. Apple’s smartphone inspires rabid customer responses and global anticipation.
Video footage has surfaced online from Reuters of the Beijing Apple Store riot: