Apple suspends iPhone 4S sales in mainland China retail stores

“The introduction of the Apple iPhone 4S in Beijing turned ugly Friday morning when Apple failed to open its flagship store and a frustrated crowd responded by pelting the store’s gleaming glass walls with eggs,” Sharon LaFraniere reports for The New York Times. “Apple said in a statement that it had temporarily suspended sales of all iPhones at its five mainland China stores for the safety of customers and employees. The phones will still be offered online, through Apple’s official partner, Unicom, and at authorized resellers. The statement did not say when Apple stores would resume selling the iPhone 4S.”
“Demand for iPhones in China far exceeds supply, which has spawned an army of scalpers who hire migrant workers to snap up products that the scalpers then resell at jacked-up prices. The horde of more than 1,000 people who gathered outside the store Friday in the Sanlitun district of Beijing Friday included organized teams of migrant workers, identifiable by matching armbands or hats,” LaFraniere reports. “Some of the migrant workers said they were bused in and promised payment of 100 renminbi, or about $16, for purchasing a phone. Wary of unrest, police ordered the store not to open, according to one source familiar with the situation.”

LaFraniere reports, “Furious, some would-be customers threw eggs. Police dispersed the crowd and temporarily cordoned off the store. Those recruited by scalpers were particularly angry: some said the store’s closure meant that they would get only 10 renminbi, meant as a food allowance, after standing in line all night in freezing temperatures.”

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