Fights have broken out all over the world in the last couple of days in front of Apple Stores as people queued for the new iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.
In part, the fights appear to be happening because Apple’s launch of the new phone is delayed in China, and Chinese immigrants are being paid to stand in line at Apple Stores in other countries to buy the new phones and sell them on to customers in China. The police believe the people lining up are all Chinese iPhone flippers:
“It’s our understanding that the markup on these phones when they’re resold in China can be upwards of 300 percent,” Hartman said in a phone interview. “For the most part, the dozens and hundreds of people who are waiting in line are just doing that.”
A black market iPhone 6 can go for $3,000 to $4,000, according to NBC. iPhone 6 has not launched in China due to a delay caused by Chinese officials, who have not yet approved the phone. China is one of the biggest markets for tech products — and not a single iPhone 6 is yet available there for sale, legally.
So black market resellers are organizing gangs of Chinese people to stand outside Western stores and buy as many iPhones as they can. Put together days-long lines, financially motivated customers, and a shortage of product, and the result is conflict.
Here’s a roundup of the trouble it’s causing.
A man was restrained by police in Paris after a scuffle broke out in front of an Apple store there. The Daily Mirror has this video of the man being handcuffed:
One man told The Mirror: “The store was very disorganised, they had not expected so many customers. Once the doors to the shopping centre was opened, people ran towards the shop and Apple staff had to call the police.”
Three people in New Haven, Conn., were arrested after a fight broke out between a dozen Chinese people who had driven up from New York to get iPhones, NBC says. New Haven police are not happy about it, according to Bloomberg:
“One has to ask the question to what degree is Apple responsible for contributing to this?” said Hartman of the New Haven Police Department. “You know we have a city to police, and this has been going on since Wednesday now.”
In Vancouver, Canada, police were called to control a line outside a shopping mall:
In New York, a fight briefly broke out in line for the store on the Upper West Side, according to USA Today. Twitter user Eli Blumenthal witnessed the fight:
Twitter / Eli Blumenthal
The fights illustrate the fact that the people who line up early for iPhone 6 are often not fans of the product. Rather, they’re people who are being paid to stand in line by resellers. As the Huffington Post noted when it inspected the lines in New York:
It was surprising that more than 90% of the people in line wearing warm jackets and sitting in portable chairs were Chinese. They weren’t Chinese tourists or Chinese-Americans, but the workers you often see doing the lowest-wage jobs in Chinatown.