Apple’s suspended retail sales of the iPhone 4S in China, after its Beijing store was pelted with eggs by unhappy would-be customers.
When large crowds gathered outside the store before opening, the company became concerned about safety and decided against opening the doors.
About 350 people were outside the store at the time, and many had been waiting all night. When the announcement was made at 7.00am, angry customers pelted the store with eggs.
According to the Financial Times, a dozen police cars were sent to the incident, along with a SWAT vehicle, and several people were arrested.
It’s believed, though, that as many as half of those waiting were hired middlemen, or scalpers, recruited in large teams to buy up as many of the phones as possible for resale at a hefty mark-up.
Much the same thing happened last May when the white iPhone 4 was launched. The same Sanlitun, Beijing store was closed after a man tried to jump the line and fighting broke out.
The phone sold out quickly at the company’s other four retail outlets in China. In Shanghai, customers have been limited to two phones each. Apple says local customers can still buy the phone online through service provider Unicom and authorized resellers.
China is a massive market for Apple, with 5.5 million iPhones sold in the first three quarters of last year, according to analyst form Gartner. Over ten percent of smartphones sold in the country are iPhones.