Apple suspends iPhone 4S sales in China after egg-throwing attack

iPhone 4S sales are halted in China after one store was pelted with eggs when it told waiting customers that it would not be selling the new phone as scheduled, according to reports.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Apple has pulled the plug on iPhone 4S sales in mainland China after unruly crowds hurled eggs at the company's flagship store in Beijing, according to reports.

Hundreds of people had waited in line overnight to grab the new phone at the Santilun outlet (English translation) in Beijing, only to find out Friday morning local time that Apple had decided not to open the store in light of safety issues over the huge throngs of people, according to the Associated Press.

In reaction, some in the crowd began hurtling eggs at the store, eventually triggering the arrival of police who were forced to drag several people away. As a result of the melee, Apple made the decision to halt sales of the phone across its five retail stores in China.

"Unfortunately we were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd and to ensure the safety of our customers and employees, the iPhone will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being," an Apple representative said in a statement sent to Reuters.

Chinese consumers eager to pick up the iPhone 4S can still buy one via the Web through Apple's online store, via carrier China Unicom, or from other authorized sellers, Apple said. Apple's four other stores in China, which opened without incident, sold out of their iPhone 4S stock very quickly, added the company.

Along with the many anxious customers waiting in line were a large number of migrant workers hired by scalpers chomping to get the new phone so they could resell it at exorbitant prices, noted The New York Times.

Apple has faced trouble with scalpers in the past grabbing up huge supplies of its products to sell to customers unable to find stock at authorized retail outlets.

Apple's Sanlitun store was also reportedly the site of a skirmish last May between two men, one of whom was allegedly a scalper, fighting over a place in line to get the iPad 2.

None of the news sources indicated when Apple might resume sales in China. Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.