Eager customers looking to pick up the Apple iPhone 4S, in a district in China, were left irritated and furious when a company store failed to open, without prior notice, at its scheduled time.
The store, in Beijing, Sanlitun district, was supposed to open at 7 a.m. on Friday, according to an earlier Apple advertisement. Customers, in anticipation, spent the night outside, in severely cold weather. According to some people waiting, the number of customers grew overnight, to about 2,000. Many of those left, disappointed, before dawn, following a rumor the store opening was canceled. There were approximately 350 people left, when the protests erupted, according to an Associated Press report
At 7:15 a.m., people started shouting Open the door! and Liars!, after a man with a megaphone announced the phone wouldn't go on sale on the day. Beijing police were forced to temporarily seal off the store, after it was pelted with eggs from the furious mob, Bloomberg reported.
Apple later said it would temporarily stop selling the iPhone 4S in its five retail stores in China.
We were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd, and to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, the iPhone will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being, said Apple spokeswoman, Carolyn Wu. However, the device will be available online, through local partner China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. and through resellers, the Wall Street Journal added.
China Unicom, the country's second-largest carrier, sent a text message to subscribers announcing the free home delivery of the iPhone 4S through its online store.
Buy the iPhone 4S without lining up! the carrier said, in a text message sent to subscribers in Beijing. The text also stated that Unicom's online shop made the device available at midnight.
Along with different levels of subsidies, the Web site lists the 16GB model at 5,880 yuan ($930). It says the phone is free to users, who commit to a three-year plan for 286 yuan a month or a two-year plan for 386 yuan a month.
In other parts in the capital, the launch of iPhone 4S went smoothly. Apple handed out 1,000 vouchers, at its store in the Xidan neighborhood, for customers who purchased two iPhone 4S handsets. Finally, in the Pudong district in Shanghai, a company store reportedly opened an hour early to accommodate waiting customers, before selling out almost immediately.
Meanwhile, approximately 60 migrant laborers, reportedly hired by resellers and scalpers, to line up outside the Xidan store have complained they were not paid the 120 yuan ($19) they were promised because they failed to get an iPhone 4S after the 12-hour wait, Bloomberg reported. According to reports, the migrant laborers came by bus from a labor market in the suburbs and received only a 10-yuan food allowance.