iPhone scalpers in China on the decrease as Apple resumes online sales of iPhone 4S, shipping by March 2

Last week we told you about a new online lottery system for reservations that Apple setup for iPhone 4S sales through its Hong Kong stores to combat scalpers after it was forced to suspend sales of the device in various locations throughout Mainland China. Unfortunately, until this week, Apple’s online store for China has been out of stock since the overwhelming launch.

After implementing the new reservation policies on Tuesday, and in Beijing on Wednesday, Apple has now resumed online sales of the device with shipments arriving to customers no later than March 2, reported ChinaDaily. Apple’s online store for Mainland China now lists the iPhone 4S with an expected delivery time of “February.” Customers are limited to two devices with all three models currently available in both black and white. An Apple employee confirmed the March 2 date to ChinaDaily:

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No more iPhones in Beijing and Shanghai ‘for the time being’, Apple warns as analysts criticize China launch delays

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 Times explained 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 (via Reuters):

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.


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What went down at the Sanlitun Apple Store in Beijing, China?

Update: we just got the following unverified account:

According to my friend who was at the Sanlitun Apple Store when the incident took place, there were dozens of resellers outside the store trying to get the white iPhone 4, they were told to wait in line and was not allowed to go inside. Resellers got pissed and smashed the glass door, which costs about 300,000RMB or 46,000USD, according to an apple employee at the store. Then a foreign(non-Chinese) employee came out from the store with a metal club and hit 4 people, including 2 young men and 2 middle age women. All 4 people are hospitalized right now and no money was paid by apple for medical purposes.

Pictures are just coming in but it appears that there was some sort of incident between “foreign Apple Store Employees” and some locals during the iPad 2 launch.  One account:

The afternoon of May 7, Beijing SanLiTun store Apple, crowds queued to buy the iPhone4 conflict with in-store staff. One stands more than 1.9 metres for expatriate staff armed with iron rods Brawl wounded four customers. A glass door of the store were hit and destroyed by excited crowds. Are 4-bit the injured have been admitted to hospital

Another account has another poorly translated view:

Sanlitun Apple Store bloodshed, because too many people queuing waiting suddenly closed shop, where the weather is so hot multi-line Burongyia, Apple stunned party to a foreigner and a Chinese man actually hands-on, people with the scene confirmed the man was wounded also the guests lined up to buy Apple products.We look at the quality of foreigners, but also that, to earn the money we have in China is also the name of our people.

We’re not sure exactly what went down but it doesn’t look too good.

In other Apple Store glass smashing news, the Westlake Cleveland Apple store was robbed.  24 MacBook and 1 iPod stolen.  Perpetrators were last seen heading east (1999?)

More pictures of bloodied people and one final account below:

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