China loves Apple products as we have seen from stories about various counterfeit products and even stores that have arisen. And so, it comes as no surprise that the release of the iPhone4S in China on 13 January had attracted large numbers of people to the five real Apple Stores.
What’s strange about these gatherings, however, is that among the Apple fanboys you’d expect to line up are an astounding number of phone resellers, folks who plan to buy the new phone anticipating a sell-out so they can turn it for a profit.
From four in the afternoon of the previous day 150 people were seen waiting in line, throughout the night the number swelled into the thousands. Scattered everywhere in these line resellers could be seen. How do we know? They wear colored ribbons around their arm to tell everyone they intend to scalp their iPhones.
That’s right. In most countries this type of behavior is often done on the down-low with resellers trying to blend in with the crowd, whereas in China the wear their intentions proudly on their sleeves. It’s truly amazing that what was once called “Red China” is embracing such free-market capitalism that would unsettle even the staunchest neo-con.
As the night grew longer and colder, the number of armband wearing “customers” continued to grow in every location in China. In the end it’s Apple’s true fans who lose as they will undoubtedly have to shell out a considerable mark-up to get their phones from these second-hand dealers.
In other news, one Beijing Apple Store was forced to cancel sale of the iPhone4S after a minor clash involving customers and police. According to one young male customer, “around 5 a.m. a scuffle broke out in the line. The police started beating some people, and now Apple says they aren’t selling the iPhone4S. What the hell?!”
Although other Apple stores reported no incidents and sold out all their units by 9 a.m. an Apple spokesperson said, “The iPhone4S demand has been incredibly strong across China, and sold out. However due to the danger to staff and customers posed by the large crowds we will be suspending further sales of the iPhone4S.” Not to worry though, iPhones can still be purchased online or, it would seem, from one of the many, many resellers around China.
▼In this Beijing Store orange tape was used to identify resellers.
▼In Shanghai, this mysterious group wearing orange caps was spotted.
▼Not to judge a book by its cover but they don’t look like typical iPhone users…
▼The crowds were huge in spite of the chilling temperatures.
▼It’s hard to tell if there is even a line-up somewhere in that mess.