According to witnesses, a Chinese man thought to be a scalper — a buyer who makes multiple purchases to resell at higher prices — tried three times to cut into a long line of customers waiting to buy the newly-released white iPhone 4 in Beijing. Three Apple security guards and an Apple manager attempted to escort the individual away from the store. Two of the employees were foreigners.
As the man was taken away, witnesses said a shoving match erupted, involving an Apple employee and a member of the alleged scalpers’ family. When the situation escalated, Apple security guards shut and locked the front door of the store.
A group stormed the front door and shattered the glass, prompting Apple to close the store several hours Saturday for repairs.
Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu:
The Apple store in Sanlitun closed for several hours on Saturday after a group outside the store became unruly. The store team acted to protect themselves and our customers by closing the doors and preventing the group from entering. The safety of our customers and employees is our top priority.
Here’s Wu’s understatement of the year:
Demand on the next generation iPad 2 has been amazing. We are working hard to get the iPad 2 into the hands of every customer who wants one as quickly as possible.
Just don’t bust down our doors.
CNN notes that while Apple has only 4 retail stores in China the iPad dominates with more than 75% of the tablet market share. This is surprising given the relatively low average annual income of around $7,500 in China compared to the $499 starting price tag.
However, wealth is rising in China and last week’s incident shows that some will do crazy things to get a taste of what Westerners have.