A large crowd of buyers, either iPhone fans or scalpers, line up at a Apple. Inc's flagship store in Sanlitun Subdistrict, Beijing Thursday night, January 12, 2012. The company plans to start the sale of its latest hit product iPhone4S in China at 7:00am Friday. [Photo: CFP]
Mobs of customers and organized scalpers forced Apple to suspend initial sales of its iPhone 4S smartphone at one of its two stores in downtown Beijing.
A salesperson at the company's store in the Sanlitun shopping district announced through a megaphone early Friday morning that the store would not open its doors, according to customer Wang Qiannan, who remained waiting outside of the store.
Wang said the store's staff did not explain why they were not opening, but suspects it was out of safety concerns.
At least 1,000 people who were hired by scalpers to stand in line and wait for the phone to go on sale were displeased with the decision to keep the store closed. A bag of broken eggs was found on the ground in front of the store and egg residue was seen on the store's glass walls.
A second Apple store located in the Xidan shopping district opened its doors shortly before 7:00 a.m. and sold its iPhone 4S stock within one hour.
Apple previously announced that the iPhone 4S, the latest version of the device, would be released in China and 21 other countries on Jan. 13.
The phone will be available at Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai, as well as through online retailers. One of China's largest online retailers, 360buy.com, had the phone available for purchase as of 10 a.m. Friday.
Policemen stand by outside an Apple Inc's store in Xidan, Beijing Thursday night as a large crowd of buyers gather to wait for the sale of iPhone 4S, set to begin next morning. [Photo: Sina Weibo.]