Friday, January 13, 2012

Beijing Apple store egged after new iPhone delayed

Angry customers and gangs of scalpers threw eggs at Apple Inc.'s Beijing store Friday after the iPhone 4S launch there was canceled due to concerns over the crowd's size.
Apple reacted to the outburst by postponing iPhone 4S sales in its mainland China stores to protect customers and employees. 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.
"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 be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being," said Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu.
The iPhone 4S quickly sold out at other Apple stores in China, Wu said. She said the phone still will be sold in China through Apple's online store, its local carrier China Unicom Ltd. and authorized resellers.
Wu declined to comment on what Apple might know about scalpers buying iPhones for resale.
China is Apple's fastest-growing market and "an area of enormous opportunity," CEO Tim Cook said in October. He said quarterly sales were up nearly four times over a year earlier and accounted for one-sixth of Apple's global sales.
Apple's China stores are routinely mobbed for the release of new products.
The company has its own stores only in Beijing and Shanghai, with a handful of authorized retailers in other cities, so middlemen who buy iPhones and resell them in other areas can make big profits, said Wang Ying, who follows the mobile phone market for Analysys International, a research firm in Beijing.
"Apple is making a lot of money, so it is not too concerned about the scalpers," Wang said.
Wang and other industry analysts said the size of the underground trade and price markups are unclear.
In Shanghai, stores limited iPhone 4S sales to two per customer. Several hundred people were waiting when the stores opened, bundled up against the cold. Some passed the time playing mahjong.
Buyers included 500 older people from neighboring Jiangsu province who were hired by the boss of a mobile phone market, the newspaper Oriental Morning Post said. They arrived aboard an 11-bus convoy and were paid 150 yuan ($15) each.
Online bulletin boards were filled with comments about Friday's buying frenzy, many complaining about or ridiculing the scalpers.
An Apple contractor manufactures iPhones in China, but new models are released in other countries first. That has fueled a thriving "gray market" in China for phones smuggled in from Hong Kong and other markets.
Last May, the Sanlitun store was closed for several hours after a scuffle between an employee and a customer during the release of the iPhone 4, the previous model in the series.
Customers began gathering Thursday afternoon outside the Sanlitun store. People in the crowd said the number grew to as many as 2,000 overnight but many left when word spread the store would not open. About 350 people remained when the protest erupted after 7 a.m.
"On the one hand there is poor organization and on the other there were just too many people," said a man outside the Sanlitun store Friday, who would give only his surname, Miao. "I don't think they prepared well enough."
Another man who refused to give his name said he was a migrant laborer who was paid 100 yuan ($15) to wait in line overnight.
Others in the crowd said scalpers had organized groups of 20 to 30 migrant workers to buy phones or hold places in line. Organizers held colored balloons aloft to identify themselves to their workers.
Others said they were waiting to buy the phone for themselves.
"I just like the 4S," said Zhu Xiaodong, a Beijing resident. He said he was upgrading from the previous iPhone 4 model.
Sales in China began three months after the iPhone 4S had its global debut Oct. 14 in the United States and six other countries.
The delay between the release of Apple products in the United States and in China has yet to affect its reputation with Chinese customers, said Ted Dean, managing director of BDA China Ltd., a research firm in Beijing.
For other products, such a delay "sort of gives the impression here that you're not giving the Chinese consumer a fair shake," Dean said. "But demand and that `cool factor' is so huge for Apple products that you don't hear that about them."
I guess deciding to not open wasn't the best idea.   Apple could have hired some extra security and called it a day.


  1. Brett™ (not the recent impostor)January 13, 2012 at 7:58 PM

    John Gruber at wrote: "Good thing the iPhone 4S is such a disappointment. Imagine how long the lines would’ve been (and how much worse the egg-throwing and rioting) otherwise."

  2. I think the point here dummy is the bad decision by Apple to not open the store. It seriously would have been simple to get extra security and gate everyone into lines. If we closed down things every time we thought there'd be a huge turn-out there would be no concerts. Stupid stupid Apple.

  3. Brett™ (not the recent impostor)January 14, 2012 at 2:08 PM

    The point here, as always, is to find an angle, wherever possible, to criticize Apple. We don't really know if extra security would have been able to peacefully control the crowd and keep them from trampling each other and destroying the store, but its always fun to play "Monday morning quarterback" and blame Apple. That's what haters do.

  4. Actually, the point here is always the same. To show people that Apple is not the perfection and bliss that it and it's blind followers claim that it is. They have flaws, make mistakes and are vulnerable. In some of your comments you yourself have pointed out viruses or other problems with Windows-based machines. That make you a hypocritical hater by your own definition.

  5. Brett™ (not the recent impostor)January 14, 2012 at 9:46 PM

    I don't know who this strawman is that you claim asserts that Apple is perfection and bliss. Perhaps if you cited them, I'd join in in criticizing them.

    Sure, Apple has a loyal (and well earned) following. The reason it does is that, for many people, Apple does a better job than its competitors at providing a superior end-to-end experience (from purchasing, through use and support). The point is that Apple doesn't have to be perfect. It only has to be better (and in our opinion, it is).

    Yes, in some of my comments, I've pointed out flaws in Windows and Android when it seemed obvious to me that fans of those systems were ignoring their more egregious problems while attempting to amplify Apple's faults. But I don't "hate" those systems, and I certainly haven't created a website in order to promote their hatred.

  6. >Apple does a better job than its competitors at providing a superior end-to-end experience
    >Apple better superior experience

    mfw failing to open a store for people who stayed there for the whole night is a better job

  7. Brett™ (not the recent impostor)January 15, 2012 at 3:42 AM

    In preparation for this event, all Apple had to go on was their prior experience with new iPhone releases elsewhere around the world. They certainly didn't expect an overwhelming mob converging on the store from an "11 bus convoy" brought in by scalpers. There were 2000 people there!. Can you imagine what would have happened had Apple opened the doors? People might have been trampled to death in the rush. All things considered, a disaster was probably averted.

    It's so easy to criticize with hindsight, but you weren't there. You didn't have to make the decision. I doubt any of you critics could have anticipated and handled it better.

    It's certainly a disappointment for the legitimate customers that waited all night, but the biggest share of blame should go to the greedy scalpers that ruined it for them. Actually I'm surprised that you have sympathy for those who waited in line, as they are generally the subjects of ridicule by haters.

  8. Are you kidding Brett? Strawman? EVERYONE I speak with that owns an Apple product says the same damn thing when I ask "Why did you choose Apple?". They say "Well, isn't Apple better? Apple can't get viruses right? Plus you can only do Photoshop on a Mac." They NEVER talk about how they compared the two and found Mac to be better. The stupidity is sickening. I guess if you want I can list the names of people that have said that to me but what good would that do you?

    Also, if Apple had actually looked at other iPhone releases, they would've seen how organized they were with steel gates funneling people into lines and extra security (which Apple can afford, trust me) The scalpers were there because they know there are idiots out there that will pay anything for the non-existent magical experience that is the iPhone.

  9. Exactly Eric. I was just hanging out with some people and 2 Iphone owners were marveling at my Samsung Galaxt S2. One of them even asked me "So, why do people buy iPhones if this thing is out?" I asked her why she bought hers and her answer was, "I don't really know." I swear it was like I was in that Samsung commercial.

    I think we might have 2 more converts ;)

  10. Eric, I 'm sure Apple had all the usual crowd control personnel and railings in place, but were simply not prepared for an unprecedented turnout of 2000 people. It's not an issue of what Apple can afford, but rather the inability to deal with an unexpected turnout. Once it became apparent that the crowd would far exceed the planned capacity, it was probably to late to hire and install additional security personnel and equipment. In any event, they would not have sufficient inventory on hand to satisfy demand. There still would have been lots of disappointed and angry people.

    Dave, The Apple owners you spoke with seemed to make uninformed purchasing decisions. Well it works both ways. Very few Windows and Android users really understand what sets their products apart. It's a shame in either case, but most consumers just don't have the time and the technical savvy to fully research their purchases.

    I certainly don't recommend Apple without reservation to everyone, as I understand that every device is a result of tradeoffs, and I don't want to see anyone disappointed if an iPhone or Mac doesn't actually meet their needs.

    But I will say this, putting aside the flashy demos, spec sheets, and features lists, when computer and phone owners who have had a chance to really use their equipment day in day out, are surveyed, Apple always comes out on top for user satisfaction and support. For prospective customers, that's a compelling reason to give Apple consideration.

  11. Look at the stupid headline:"ipad instead of passport!"
    a stupid story from a stupid apple fanboy for the stupid apple fans
    these rumors and lies can't save the f... bitten apple, even a hydrogen reactor inside a f... idevice!
    f... apple and sj for ever and ever and ever ...

  12. At last, a cogent argument! I'm speechless.

  13. Hmm, yes well, I guess it's not a very well put together insult or argument but I like the sentiment. As far as those people that have iPhones, I can relate. I usually ask people why they chose the tech that they bought. Apple owners usually, not always, say that they thought they heard that Apple was better or immune to problems in the way of crashes or malware. After more questions I discover that they crash and have the same type and frequency of problems that anyone else has. I'm not saying that Apple is better or worse than other tech, just a different flavor. Unfortunately, the illusion is that they're better causing some of the uninformed public to spend more money than they have to.

  14. Who carries eggs around with them for this purpose?

  15. Everyone should carry rotten eggs to throw at Apple stores. All the kids are doing it.

  16. Wow! Thank you! I always needed to write on my blog something like that. Can I implement a part of your post to my website?
    Standard Motor Products Crankshaft Sensor

  17. Knock yourself out Gladys. Not that I understand what you're talking about.

  18. Apple apparently learned from this experience and successfully used an advance reservation system for the recent iPad 3 debut.