The iPhone 4S is set to finally launch in China tomorrow, but that hasn’t stopped the locals from lining up early to secure access to the coveted handset. The line for Apple’s flagship store in Beijing has gotten so out of control that Apple may have to cancel the launch there altogether.
Reports are coming in that Beijing SWAT teams have already been called in to handle thousands of angry scalpers and potential customers. There have reportedly been fights in the streets between gangs of professional scalpers that buy Apple devices in bulk to then resell at a higher price.
One journalist on location in Beijing claimed that Apple had canceled the launch because fights had broken out during the night, while some crowd members claimed Apple would take orders for the iPhone 4S at the store on Friday without distributing the devices.
Groups of professional line-waiters and scalpers could be seen congregating outside the store early Friday. As the 7AM launch time came and went without Apple opening its doors, a number of them became disgruntled. Shouts of “Open the door!” rang periodically rang throughout the crowd. At one point, a group of unhappy line-waiters left shouting profanities at Apple. Several individuals were forcefully escorted away by security officials, though it was not immediately clear why they were being removed.
M.I.C Gadget is also reporting from the scene:
Lines outside the Apple store in Beijing’s Sanlitun district show no signs of shortening, causing frustration for the thousands of fans and scalpers desperate to get their hands on the iPhone 4S. Now some of that disappointment is turning to anger, with reports of fights breaking out between gangs of scalpers, and guess what, Beijing SWAT teams arrived. So, the Apple store employees later announced that the launch of iPhone 4S is cancelled at the Apple’s flagship store in Beijing, and all scalpers are pissed.
Bloomberg claims that people are egging the Sanlitun Apple Store in Beijing because of the launch delay. Apparently another store in Shanghai has already opened to the public and is selling the 4S.
China Unicom is offering the iPhone 4S for free with a carrier contract. Demand for new devices has always been strong, but, unfortunately, riots are nothing new for Apple product launches in China.