Violence Shatters Apple Store Queue in China

Violence erupted at the Sanlitun Apple Store in China Saturday as people were queued up to buy Apple’s popular white iPhone 4 and iPad 2. Several accounts say that customers (or resellers, as the case may be) shattered the front door, which resulted in someone who may or may not have been a tall Apple Store foreign employee laying about with a metal stick, sending several people to the hospital.

Sanlitun Apple Store

The Sanlitun Apple Store on a calm evening at The Village in Beijing
Source: Apple Inc.

Accounts are confused at this point, but what we do know is that the front door got smashed, and that a fight of some sort broke out afterwards. Michael Hakel, for instance, was an Apple customer waiting in line at the store, and he tweeted “Quite a crowd queuing outside of Apple at The Village in #Beijing. Waiting to buy iPad 2. Saw even a fight with some blood. Crazy.”

He later added, “Apple store locked down now. Front glass door is gone they just collect the pieces.” In another post he noted, “Oh and police with dogs is patrolling around the Apple store in Sanlitun. Outside so many sellers of iPhone 4 and new iPad 2.”

Shattered door at Sanlitun Apple Store

The Sanlitun Apple Store’s front door, shattered

The mention “so many sellers” from Mr. Hakel is a reference to the many resellers who buy up as much of the supply of whatever is scarce at Apple’s retail locations as they can so that they can then resell them at a profit. At the moment, the white iPhone 4 is all the rage in China, and supply of the device has been selling out almost immediately, at least some of it going to these resellers. In addition, the iPad 2 was just released in China, adding to the queues in that country.

At least one account of the violence at the Sanlitun Apple Store on Saturday suggested that it was started by these resellers. An unnamed source told 9to5Mac that, “There were dozens of resellers outside the store trying to get the white iPhone 4, they were told to wait in line and was not allowed to go inside. Resellers got pissed and smashed the glass door, which costs about 300,000RMB or US$46,000, according to an apple employee at the store. “

That price is unverified, as is the account itself, but what allegedly happened next is that, “A foreign(non-Chinese) employee came out from the store with a metal club and hit 4 people, including 2 young men and 2 middle age women. All 4 people are hospitalized right now and no money was paid by apple for medical purposes.”

There are other references to a 1.9m (6’3”) foreign, non-Chinese Apple employee who started hitting people in the queue with an “iron rod” after the front door was broken,a sending four people to the hospital. The photos below come from another source, iFeng, and show several people injured, lying on the sidewalk.

iFeng also included a very similar account of what happened (a 1.9m tall Apple employee hit four people with an iron rod, sending them to the hospital).

Injured customer

Injured man outside of the Sanlitun Apple Store
(Click the image for a larger version)
Source: iFeng

Injured customer

Another injured customer outside the Apple Store
(Click the image for a larger version)
Source: iFeng

Apple has not yet commented on the incident.