The Apple iPad 2 frenzy in China took a violent turn when a scuffle broke out between a customer and an Apple Store employee, leaving four people injured.
CNN reported that the hustle was courtesy a Chinese man surmised to be a scalper who tried to cut in thrice into the long queue of customers waiting to buy the iPad 2 in Beijing.
Three Apple security guards and an Apple manager attempted to shove the scalper aside, which ultimately resulted in a shoving match between an Apple security guard and a member of the scalper family.
AppleInsider reported that the iPad 2 went on sale in China at 8 a.m Friday. CNET reported that the first stock-out was reported about four hours later. The slimmer, faster and lighter rendition of iPad was also available on the China Apple Online Store where BY Friday afternoon; iPad 2 shipping estimates had reached No Supply status.
CNET reported that a security guard outside the Beijing Apple Store confirmed that hopeful buyers had queued up at around 4 a.m. The number of buyers had swelled from 500 to 1000 by the time the stored opened.
The incident confirms the problem scalpers are posing to Apple product launches. Scalpers are buyers who attempt to buy as many Apple devices as they can to later sell it at a premium. Scalpers then resell the devices on Craigslist, eBay or export to other countries.
DailyMail reported that police had to be called at the New York Apple Store in March to break up crowds after genuine customers attempted to get past scalpers.
In March NewYorkPost reported that Chinese scalpers had lined up outside Apple Store in New York to get hold of as many iPads as they could to later sell the tablets in China at a premium.
Scalpers at New York doled out $100 bills to five cohorts who then went and disbursed the amount to more than 200 Asians waiting outside the queue, who then cleared iPads of the shelf. NewYork Post reported that one of the scalpers demanded $1700 for a top of the line iPad 2 which is priced at $829. However much of the merchandise was shipped to China.
Scalpers are able to command huge margins. AppleInsider reported that scalpers were willing to sell iPad 2 to customers in China at a premium of $30.
The devices command a huge premium on sites like Craigslist and eBay. Chipchick reported in March that when they listed an iPad 2/3G/32 GB/ AT&T White on Craigslist a Russian entrepreneur offered $1050 for the device. The Russian buyer confirmed that he was buying as many AT&T iPads as he could to resell them in Moscow. The site also cited that scalpers usually go for AT&T iPads rather than Verizon ones, as AT&T devices are GSM and come unlocked.
The modus operandi followed by the Russian scalper was to wait in the queue from 6 a.m with seven other friends in New York City. After the first round of purchase they waited in the line again and then arrived again on the scene the third time in a disguise wearing glasses and baseball cap. He also paid $200 to a guy standing ahead of him to get him another iPad. The scalper specifically went for AT&T 3G iPad 2's. The Russian operative also stated that he would be going to Canada for repeat performance at the Apple Store launch.
At the back of Apple's success scalpers are profiteering by exploiting the Apple iPad 2 mania which has gripped customers globally. However, the violence in Chinese reveals that Apple will have to take action to curb scalpers from curbing supply for real buyers.