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Apple store egged in China after iPhone 4S release delay

Rob Schmitz Jan 13, 2012

Steve Chiotakis:There were riots today in China. But not because of a labor dispute, or some kind of human rights campaign. The trouble began when an Apple store in Beijing announced it was cancelling the sale of the new iPhone 4S, and the company has now temporarily suspended sales at all Chinese stores. The people who had waited in line all night pelted that store in Beijing with eggs and a police tactical unit had to be called in.

Marketplace China bureau chief Rob Schmitz reports.

Rob Schmitz: Last year at the launch of the iPad 2 in China, it was a fistfight and a smashed store window — now this.

Shaun Rein, author of the forthcoming book “The End of Cheap China” says Apple’s underestimating itself.

Shaun Rein: They underestimate the popularity of Apple products. The iPhone 4S entered China months after entering the United States. They have their Siri, but it doesn’t have Mandarin language capability. But still, you have people lining up all night long.

And after lining up all night, customers in Beijing were told to go home without their iPhones. The response was a barrage of eggs splattering against the modern glass exterior of the store. An Apple spokeswoman chalked it all up to the popularity of Apple’s products.

But Rein says Apple simply doesn’t get China.

Rein: They really have viewed China as a secondary market, which is a mistake. Because we think the market could handle a hundred Apple stores, and that China should actually be a larger market than for Apple in the United States. Demand here is high. People just go crazy for Apple products.

And that’s because of the 300 stores Apple has globally, only five of them are in China.

In Shanghai, I’m Rob Schmitz, for Marketplace.

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