The iPhone 4 launch in China this past weekend got off to incredible start. In just a few days, China Unicom processed over 200,000 pre-orders, a figure which ended up exhausting their initial supply of 100,000 devices. In fact, the strong demand for the iPhone 4 forced China Unicom to cease all online reservations and initiate a rule whereby interested iPhone 4 users would have to physically show up in an Apple retail store if they wanted to get their hands on Apple's latest smartphone.
Problem solved, right?
For reasons that defy explanation, Apple's flagship store in Beijing yesterday removed the 2 iPhone per customer limit. What resulted was absolute chaos. Okay, well maybe that's a bit extreme, but with the iPhone limit no longer in place, unscrupulous folks began purchasing iPhones in bulk where they would then go outside to try and sell them on the street or to other customers waiting in line. There were even reports of some individuals walking out with 20-30 iPhone boxes, as evidenced by the photo below.
Compounding matters, there were reportedly some altercations involving genuine consumers and iPhone 4 "scalpers." Apple's security staff tried to keep the peace, but eventually the police had to be called in, prompting the Apple Store in Beijing to close down temporarily so that order could be restored to an arguably anarchic situation.
In the wake of that mess, all of Apple's retail stores in China now require iPhone 4 purchasers to show identity cards while purchasing the device to ensure that no individuals buy in bulk. Moreover, Apple retail staff are now activating iPhone 4s for individuals right in the store, thereby preventing scalpers from re-selling the device "brand new" to other folks waiting in line.
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