Customers in Hong Kong must reserve Apple's new iPad online before they attempt to collect it from store.
iOS devices are big business in China, and not just for Apple. Gangs of scalpers queue up to get their hands on the latest devices on launch day so that they can later be sold on through the grey market for a sizable profit.
Back in October, when the iPhone 4S launched in Hong Kong, police were called to break up the riots that occurred outside of Apple retail stores as scalpers attempted to force their way into the lines ahead of genuine customers. To ensure it doesn’t happen again, Apple has warned scalpers not to queue up for its new iPad on Friday.
Remember those riots at the iPhone 4S launch in Shanghai and Beijing last week? Meet the group responsible for them: this orange-capped crowd of scalpers, an army of 500 strong so organized and massive that it took eleven busses to bring them to the event.
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.
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.
“With my lads on the police bus. They all say hi,” Navalny tweeted in Russian. An hour later, he posted another Instagram photo, this time a group portrait in the Izmailovo jailhouse of everyone arrested.
Apple’s iPhone 4S has proven to be a huge hit in Hong Kong, with the city’s flagship Apple store selling all of its stock within a matter of hours. The fifth-generation device went on sale at 7 AM local time, but by lunchtime it was all gone.