If you thought that camping out in Covent Garden for 250 hours was the high water mark of Apple fandom, think again. Punters and touts queuing up outside Apple’s store in Beijing to be the first in China to buy the iPhone 4S reacted angrily when it was announced that the doors would not be opening, fighting with police and throwing eggs at the Beijing store.
Fans had been queueing overnight, enduring sub-zero temperatures, and weren’t too pleased to be told to return home empty-handed.
The store, situated in Beijing’s Sanlitun district, was closed due to the huge numbers of people that arrived overnight. Deciding that the safety of customers and staff could not be guaranteed, Apple decided not to open up shop.
“The demand for the iPhone 4S has been incredible and our stores in China have already sold out,” Apple said in a statement. “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 the iPhone will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being.”
Police and security staff dragged customers away as some started throwing eggs at the glass windows of the store.
The Guardian quotes someone who would only give his surname Miao as saying “On the one hand there is poor organisation and on the other there were just too many people… I don’t think they prepared well enough.”
Elsewhere in Beijing, 2,000 new iPhone 4S’s has sold out by 9am; Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, had said earlier that “customer response to our products in China has been off the charts. With the launch in China… the iPhone 4S will be available in over 90 countries, making this our fastest iPhone rollout ever”. Staggeringly (but perhaps unsurprisingly), China counts for one-sixth of Apple’s global sales.
It’s thought that many of the people queuing up were touts, waiting to buy iPhone 4S’s and sell them on at a profit. The Guardian reports that a migrant worker who refused to give his name was paid 100 yuan (£10) to wait in line on someone else’s behalf. Touts had reportedly organised groups 20-30 strong in order to buy iPhone 4S’s in bulk, while many were simply waiting to buy iPhone 4S’s.
Source: The Guardian
Image: Flickr user wonderferret