Earlier this month, we reported that China Telecom earned the necessary approvals to launch the iPhone 4S on China’s third-largest carrier. Today, the China Telecom subsidiary Beijing Telecom issued a press release (via China Daily) and said the Beijing-based company will launch the iPhone 4S as early as the end of February or beginning of March.
A CDMA version of the iPhone 4S will launch on the network. The press release gave no word on pricing for the device, but it will likely fall in line with the other networks.
China Telecom currently boasts 36.3 million 3G subscribers, while in comparison the nation’s largest carrier China Mobile Ltd., boasts 51.2 million 3G subscribers. Obviously, the launch of the iPhone 4S brings a lot of excitement in China, and it gives Apple the chance to add new customers. Moreover, launching on China Mobile would add an abundance of new customers, but that does not look to be happening anytime soon.
Yesterday’s eagerly awaited iPhone 4S launch in China quickly turned into chaos as an ugly brawl between gangs of professional scalpers grew out of control. Beijing SWAT teams intervened to calm down hundreds of angry customers and tame the rowdy lines. The New York Timesexplained that scalpers hired migrant workers to stand in the line and buy the phone. As Apple said it would not open the store, those individuals, identifiable by matching armbands or hats, got angry because they were not going to be paid.
An Apple spokeswoman issued the following statement following the incident (viaReuters):
Unfortunately, we were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd. And to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees, iPhones will not be available in our retails stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being.
Instead, Apple noted, customers could order the iPhone 4S on the online Apple store or through one of the many China Unicom retail outlets, the country’s exclusive iPhone carrier. However, the iconic smartphone was out of stock on the Chinese online Apple Store at the time of this writing.
As you know, Apple rarely goes on the record unless absolutely necessary, so the statement is an indication of how the launch spiraled out of control. Moreover, the egg-throwing incident inspired funny remarks on Twitter. Really, who goes to buy a new iPhone with a pocket full of eggs? Let’s just hope this situation won’t snowball into a public relations nightmare and become a theme for another anti-Apple advert by Samsung.
In the meantime, one analyst pointed out that Apple must learn from this turmoil and consider launching its products in China and United States simultaneously. Another incredible riot clip, egg throwing video and additional tidbits are displayed after the break.
Breaking out of Beijing right now: The flagship Apple Store cancelled selling the iPhone 4S after a fight broke out between scalpers (via Mic Gadget). Beijing’s SWAT team is on the scene right now to help tame the rowdy lines. Bloomberg said the angry crowd eager to get the iPhone 4S is pelting the store with eggs.
The Store was set to open at 7 a.m. local time to begin selling the iPhone 4S on China’s second largest carrier China Unicom. We showed you the large lines earlier today as customers gathered. What most people do not know, however, is that the majority of the people in line are scalpers looking sell the devices on the street. Scalpers reportedly started the fight in Beijing, according to MIC Gadget:
There are over thousands of people at the scene and seems like 99% of them are scalpers, according to local media reports. And according to our tipster, the scalpers are well organized, and they are divided into hundreds of teams, just like military forces. Each team includes 10-20 scalpers. Some of them even threw eggs at the glass door of the Apple store, while others threatened to assault the police.
The gallery above via Flickr user Liz Phung shows more shots from the launch in Beijing. There are also two images of employees receiving their first shipments at China Unicom in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province (via xinhuanet).
It is just over 8 hours before the iPhone 4S officially lands in China and huge lines already starting to form outside of Apple Stores in Beijing and Shanghai. The image below is from Instagram user Sanverde who noted he snapped the shot outside an Apple Store in Sanlitun Village, Beijing less than an hour ago. As you can see from the daytime image in the slideshow above (posted by Twitter user Alexander Galimberti on Jan. 10), Beijing line sitters started showing up for tonight’s launch days in advance. To the right is an image from Instagram user sainasilverman who says 400,000 units of the iPhone 4S have now arrived in Beijing.
China Unicom, the only carrier currently offering the iPhone 4S, does not currently accept pre-orders, but it will be offering the 16GB and 32GB models free on two- and three-year agreements. China Telecom, the nation’s third largest mobile carrier, is also expected to offer the iPhone in the future. The device recently received necessary approval from the China Radio Management agency for use on its CDMA network.
Check out the most recent shot of the lines outside the Sanlitun Village, Beijing Apple Store after the break and some more shots of gray market line sitters wearing red hats. According to MIC Gadget, those wearing a red cap have been paid 100 yuan ($16) to line up for the 12+ hour wait. We will be updating with more shots, so email your photographs of the lines to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more
The New York Timesreports that Apple is close to approval on the Grand Central Station Apple Store that has been rumored over the past year:
When Apple proposed opening a store on the balcony overlooking the main hall, it submitted its bid in linen-lined boxes, as if it were a wedding present to transit officials, a source familiar with the application process said. The board is expected to approve the deal as early as next week, at its monthly board meeting.
China might be known as the home of the fake iPhone, but what about whole stores? Surprising almost no one, China is indeed home to the fake Apple Store. These pictures from BirdAbroad (via IFOAppleStore), show a fake Apple Store complete with everything that a real Apple Store offers. Right down to the blue shirts with Apple logos and name labels for the employees. Starting from the top, this ‘Apple Store’ features a shiny exterior with a big glowing, white Apple front and center.
When you walk into the store, you will be stepping on wood or grey stone floors, depending on the section of the store, and will be surrounded by a showroom filled with iPads, Macs, and more… all on wooden tables. These tables are even equipped with the Apple (patented!) product holders. In fact, these tables are nearly identical, if not identical, to the tables used in Apple’s official stores. These stores went as far as to completely rip off Apple’s official press images – as you can see with the iPad 2 and iPod shuffle banners. Also notice the extremely outdated pink iPod posters.
Making this sound even more unbelievable are the twisted stair cases, accessory and software walls (which are nearly identical to the official ones), an area for children with cushy and fun chairs, and of course what appears to be a mini Genius Bar or a section of the store to take product lessons from employees. The most amazing part is what these employees think of their jobs:
Being the curious types that we are, we struck up some conversation with these salespeople who, hand to God, all genuinely think they work for Apple.
The “bosses” of this fake Apple Store, in Kunming, knowing that they are up to no good, informed their multiple plain clothed security guards to ban all picture taking. The best part is that there are three of these stores all within walking distance of each other. Check out some more pictures after the break that are courtesy of BirdAbroad.