Apple halted the sale of iPhone 4S from its stores in China after large crowds disrupted the launch. One of its five retail outlets in the country, in the Sanlitun area of Beijing, did not even open on Friday at 07:00 local time as advertised.
The large crowd which began gathering outside of Apple stores overnight in sub-freezing weather got angry after they were told around 7am that the phones would not go on sale as planned and that they should go home. Police outside Apple store in Beijing Police were there to contain the crowd of about 500 people at the Sanlitun store.
Apple said in a statement that it decided not to open its store at Sanlitun “due to the large crowd, and to ensure the safety of our customers and employees”. It also said that it was halting the sale of iPhones at all retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai “for the time being”. The decision came despite the fact that the stores in Beijing and Shanghai opened without incident and reported rapid sales.
However, Apple said Chinese customers can still purchase the phones either through the Apple online store or at China Unicom and other authorized sellers.
Apple said all iPhone 4Ss were now sold out in stores. China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd., the nation’s second-largest carrier, is the only one of the country’s three service providers offering the iPhone with a service contract.