Lines outside the Apple store in Beijing’s Sanlitun district show no signs of shortening, causing frustration for the thousands of fans and scalpers desperate to get their hands on the iPhone 4S. Now some of that disappointment is turning to anger, with reports of fights breaking out between gangs of scalpers, and guess what, Beijing SWAT teams arrived. So, the Apple store employees later announced that the launch of iPhone 4S is cancelled at the Apple’s flagship store in Beijing, and all scalpers are pissed.
UPDATE: More info, photos, and video.
Scalpers Throw Eggs At Apple Store
This happened at Apple’s flagship store in Beijing. Before the launch, Apple had advertised that the Sanlitun store would open at 7 a.m. However, Apple delayed the opening of its store. The decision was reached after fights and scuffles between scalpers and police broke out in the pre-dawn hours outside the store. So, at about 7:15 a.m., the massive crowd began chanting “Open the door!” and “Liars!” after a man with a bullhorn said the iPhone 4S would not go on sale today, without giving an explanation.
The crowd was also shouting profanities at Apple,
“FXXK off! Apple! You should get out of the China mobile market!”
After the Sanlitun store decided not to sell the 4S, the crowd expressed its displeasure by pelting the storefront with eggs. Yes, real eggs!
Security Officer Got Beat Up By Scalpers
When the Apple store was pelted with eggs from a crowd of about 500 people, a security officer tried to stop the egg throwing. However, the crowd of irate customers chased away the security officer, and some even tried to beat him up.
SWAT Teams Break Up Chaos
The scalpers became so unruly that the SWAT teams were called in to restore order after fighting broke out at 4 a.m. Several scalpers were forcefully escorted away by the SWAT team. But some were threatening to assault the police.
The Scalpers, Pro-Queuers, and Customers
There are over thousands of people at the scene and seems like 99% of them are scalpers, according to local media reports. And according to our tipster, the scalpers have organized into teams of 30-50 scalpers, just like military forces. They are ready to buy the phones in bulk, and re-sell the phones right in front of the store at a hefty premium. They are pricing a 16GB iPhone 4S up to RMB 5,588 (original price is RMB 4,988).
According to our tipster, all the Apple workers were scared inside the store. They didn’t open until four hours later. Apple has later confirmed in a statement that it will halt all Chinese in-store sales of iPhones (including the non 4S models).
“The demand for iPhone has been incredible, and our stores in China have already sold out,” an Apple spokesperson told the media. “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.”
Herman Lai contributed to this report.
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