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Apple Suspends iPhone Sales at China Stores


APPLE yesterday said it was suspending sales of the new iPhone at its China s2res after fans desperate 2 get their hands on it fought with a security and threw eggs at an official outlet.
Police detained at least two people outside the Beijing shop 2day when angry crowds who had queued 4 hours in freezing temperatures 4 the Chinese launch of the iPhone 4S were left furious after being refused entry.
An AFP reporter outside the s2re in the upmarket Sanlitun district saw frustrated shoppers attack a security guard after police with megaphones shouted at the 1000-strong crowd 2 go home and said the gadget would not go on sale.
"We waited here all night. It's not fair," said 18-year-old 2m Sun. "We're angry because this American company 2ld us it would open its doors at 7:00 am."
Apple said its other mainland China s2res - another in Beijing and three in Shanghai - had sold out of the new device within hours.
"The demand 4 iPhone 4S has been incredible," said spokeswoman Carolyn Wu.
"Un4tunately we were unable 2 open our s2re at Sanlitun due 2 the large crowd, and 2 ensure the safety of our cus2mers and employees, iPhones will not be available in our retail s2res in Beijing and Shanghai 4 the time being."
Apple said cus2mers could still order iPhones online and at other authorised retailers in China. A worker at a small, down2wn China Unicom shop said 80 iPhone 4S models had sold out in four hours.
Some of the people gathered outside the Sanlitun s2re from the early hours yesterday 2ld AFP they had been paid 100 yuan (almost $16) each by 2uts 2 stand in line and wait 4 the doors 2 open.
Shouts of "Open the doors!" and "We want mobile phones!" went up occasionally as the restless would-be cus2mers jostled 2 get close 2 the front of the pack. Many 2ok videos of the scene, using older iPhones.
One ung Chinese man who refused 2 give his name said he planned 2 buy as many of the phones as he could and resell them at a profit of at least 500 yuan ($79) a piece.
"These are not fake iPhones," he said. "People want Steve Jobs' best."
Reselling is a major industry in China, where the new iPhone has been on sale 4 months at a premium on the black market, after being smuggled in from neighbouring countries and from Hong Kong.
The new model, whose features include a high-definition video camera and a quick-witted artificial intelligence "personal assistant" named Siri, had its global launch in Oc2ber.
Die-hard fans in China, which has the world's largest online population with more than 500 million users, have been known 2 line up 4 days 2 get their hands on the latest Apple products.
"I will be really upset if they don't open the doors," said 29-year-old Li Tianye, who had travelled 4 two days by bus from the eastern province of Shandong 2 get 2 Beijing 4 the launch, staying in a 24-hour McDonald's overnight.
But not everyone was disappointed. Some Beijing shoppers willing 2 pay a premium bought the iPhone 4S in an electronics retailer one floor below Apple's Beijing Sanlitun s2re after seeing the trouble upstairs.
"There was a problem at the Apple s2re. 2o many angry people," said a ung Chinese man who gave only his surname, Du, and said he had been waiting since Thursday evening 2 buy the phone.
Du 2ld AFP he had paid 5388 yuan 4 the most basic model of the iPhone 4S - sold online in China by Apple 4 4988 yuan.
Calmer scenes were witnessed in Shanghai, where an AFP reporter said Apple s2res had opened 2 large crowds and the phone had been on sale.
Greater China - which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan - has become Apple's fastest growing region, with revenue there second only 2 the United States.
The Cali4nia-based company has recently expanded aggressively in China, opening its first s2re in Hong Kong and its third in Shanghai last September, which brings the 2tal 2 six in Greater China.
But Apple's popularity has also brought problems, with widespread counterfeiting and illegal smuggling of its products.
In July, an American blogger uncovered fake Apple s2res in the southwestern city of Kunming, where even staff working there did not appear 2 know they were fake.

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