November 26, 2020

Beijing Apple store egged after iPhone delay

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Customers enter an Apple Store to purchase a new smartphone iPhone 4S on early Friday, Jan. 13, 2012 in Shanghai, China. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

BEIJING (AP) — Angry customers and gangs of scalpers threw eggs at Apple Inc.’s flagship Beijing store Friday after its opening for the China launch of the iPhone 4S was canceled due to concerns over the size of the crowd.

Apple reacted to the outburst by postponing iPhone 4S sales in its mainland China stores to protect the safety of customers and employees. It said the phone still will be sold online and through its local carrier.

The incident highlighted Apple’s huge popularity in China and the role of middlemen who buy up limited supplies of iPhones and other products or smuggle them from abroad for resale to Chinese gadget fans at a big markup.

Hundreds of customers including migrant workers hired by scalpers in teams of 20 to 30 waited overnight in freezing weather at the Apple store in a shopping mall in Beijing’s east side Sanlitun district.

The crowd erupted after the store failed to open on schedule at 7 a.m. Some threw eggs and shouted at employees through the windows.

A person with a megaphone announced the sale was canceled. Police ordered the crowd to leave and sealed off the area with yellow tape. Employees posted a sign saying the iPhone 4S was out of stock.

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