Apple iPhone 4S Launch in China Delayed Due to Queue Fights

Apple’s latest iPhone 4S is apparently a hit in China. But too much desire for a smartphone can be troublesome, with long queues and scalper fights having forced a Beijing Apple Store to cancel their iPhone 4S launch.

Swelling crowds the night before the iPhone 4S launch in China (via Weibo)

Apple product launches in China have been marred with a few incidents in the past, what with patrons and scalpers alike wanting to get their hands on Apple’s latest goodies. Earlier today, Apple’s iPhone 4S was officially released in China (and a dozen other countries as well), but the flagship store in Beijing’s Sanlutin district did not open as expected, even after the store’s 7:00 a.m. opening time had long passed.

Apparently, the decision to postpone sales of the iPhone 4S in this particular store was made after scalpers on queue fought with each other for a place in line. Bloomberg reports that some resellers had actually hired migrant workers to queue up in their place, in exchange for 120 yuan. Apple is implementing a limit of two iPhone 4S handsets per customer in an effort to minimize scalping.

Still, frustration over the botched iPhone 4S launch enraged some buyers enough to pelt the Sanlutin store with eggs, prompting authorities to cordon off the area. But even with dwindling crowds and the police cordon coming off, some hopeful buyers still stayed in queue in the hopes that the store will open after all, and start selling the iPhone.

This isn’t exactly the first time Apple’s store in Sanlutin faced violent crowds amid device launches. In May, 2011, scalper fights likewise prompted store management to postpone the release of the iPad 2. In that incident, four people were injured, and the store’s (expensive) glass door was destroyed.

Elsewhere in China, though, Apple’s iPhone 4S launch was a success, with the company’s other stores in Beijing and Shanghai dealing with long lines, but without the violence. Meanwhile, China Unicom is also offering free shipping of the iPhone 4S with an online purchase, promising hassle-free delivery for subscribers.