Apple, a veteran of long lines ahead of iPhone launches in the U.S., has temporarily halted retail sales of the iPhone 4S in China. The tech giant announced Friday it has stopped in-person sales in Beijing and Shanghai “for the time being” in the wake of a near-riot by angry scalpers.
“Unfortunately, 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 available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being,” Apple announced. Online sales and purchases through telecom partner China Unicom will continue, the company adds.
Thursday, Chinese SWAT teams were called to the Beijing-based Sanlitun Apple Store after gangs of angry scalpers pelted windows with eggs, screaming “Liars!” upon hearing iPhone 4S sales were cancelled. The supply of iPhone 4S units was depleted soon after crowds massed outside the Beijing and Shanghai stores, reports said. Four other stores that did manage to open quickly had to shut their doors.
Bloomberg News quoted the managing director of the China Research Group: “This is a debacle,” said Shaun Rein. Although Apple said in 2010 it planned to build 25 stores in China, two years later there are only six.