Would-be customers (and, likely, black market types) broke into a riot when Apple halted the sale of the iPhone 4S a their flagship Beijing store. Apple included that the phones are still available online. (Published Friday, Jan. 13, 2012)
Apple has decided to cancel selling the iPhone 4S in its Chinese stores after angry customers egged a store and scuffled with security guards and police when the Beijing store didn't open and wouldn't sell the new iPhone 4S.
“The demand for iPhone 4S has been incredible, and our stores in China have already sold out,” an Apple spokesperson told AllThingsD. “Unfortunately 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 available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being. Customers can still order iPhone through the Apple Online Store, or buy at China Unicom and other authorized resellers.”
Customers camped overnight in 16-degree weather for a chance to buy the new iPhone 4S and were furious when Apple's main store in Beijing didn't open at 7 a.m. as advertised. At 7:15 a.m., a man with a bullhorn told the waiting customers that the phone wouldn't go on sale without any explanation, according to Bloomberg News. Then customers began chanting "Open the door!" and "Liars!" before pelting eggs at the store.
Reports say that the would-be customers fought with security guards and police when they were told to leave, according to CNN.
What's interesting about the accounts is that Apple said it decided not to sell any more of the new iPhones in stores, but now only online -- apparently based on the incident in Beijing. However, other accounts say that China's other four locations sold out almost immediately (but without incident because the stores opened) because of migrant workers paid by resellers to buy up the iPhones so they could sell them at a hefty mark-up.
We think it's easy for Apple to save face and say it decided not to sell the product to ensure the safety of its staff when there is no product to sell -- kind of like when CEOs leave a company to spend more time with their families. But when stores sold out of the latest iPhones early -- sometimes earlier than the scheduled opening of the store, it makes us think the Chinese stores either oversold or had too little product for a successful launch.
We don't know of any store that would shut down for the day because of too many customers waiting in line. Instead, we think the Apple stores just didn't have enough product in the first place.
Published at 6:22 AM PDT on Jan 13, 2012