China, along with other countries, finally had their iPhone 4S launch on Friday. However, demand for the smartphone was so high in China, Apple felt their retail employees and even customers were threatened by people waiting in the long lines who were physically fighting over iPhones.
Mainland China’s biggest store, in Beijing, stopped selling the iPhone at around 7 AM because of the ensuing chaos, which left many customers unhappy and sprung even more fighting and shouting (even egg throwing). Because the store manager closed the Beijing store, Apple decided to suspend sales of the iPhone 4S throughout all of mainland China, reports Mashable. The decision was made public by spokesperson Carolyn Wu, who said the decision was issued in order to protect both employees and customers.
The second-biggest wireless carrier, China Unicom, was also offering a very well-received deal: customers who signed into a three-year contract would get a free iPhone 4S, as reported by Digital Journal. Currently, the iPhone is roughly 6,000 yuan, or around $800.
Engadget reports most of the crowd at the Beijing store weren’t “normal” customers, but actually resellers who buy multiple iPhones and then sell them out at a higher price online or at markets. However, normal customers were also waiting in the long line at the Beijing store for many hours. After all that waiting, it makes some sense some people would be angry.
Pandemonium from a product launch at Apple stores is nothing new, unfortunately. The iPad 2 saw similar chaos in China during its launch, and other countries, even the United States, have seen stores with lines wrapped around the building and people waiting for hours (or days!) for their iDevice.
Is it reasonable to wait for hours on end for a new gadget, regardless of the company or brand? Is it right of them to suspend sales of the iPhone in China because of the chaos? While the temporary block on sales might ease the problem now, the “second” launch of the iPhone 4S might prove to be just as chaotic.