China has had a huge iPhone fan-base, and there was no difference at the launch of the iPhone 4S on Friday, Jan. 13. However, Friday the 13th being as it is, it was an unlucky day for Apple’s flagship Beijing store in the posh Sanlitun district.
It was a near-riot, in fact, and because of that the store was forced to remain closed, making things worse. Egg-throwing, verbal outrage, and fisticuffs abounded, though the situation at Apple’s other official stores in China remained under control.
Crowds had waited in line overnight in near-freezing temperatures, and things were made worse by the fact that scalpers had arranged for groups of 20 to 30 to work together in order to maximize the purchase of devices, which would then be sold at a premium over retail price.
Apple spokesman Carolyn Wu said, “Stores in China have already sold out. 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 4Ss will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being.”
The includes the other stores that didn’t have near-riots. However, customers can still order iPhone 4S devices from Apple’s online store and through China Unicom, which is the country’s second-largest mobile operator and the only official iPhone carrier in China.
When Apple’s iPad 2 launched in China in May of 2011, similar incidents occurrend. That same Sanlitun retail store saw a fight between customers and security staff, which left four people injured and a glass pane smashed.