Apple has been experiencing high sales volume for the iPhone 4S, since its release late last year, in October. Apple, after releasing in the United States, began the roll out of the popular device in international markets, including China, however, after scalpers caused many problems in recent months, and a near riot in Apple’s Sanlitun retail store in Beijing, the Cupertino company has decided to halt sales of the device in-store “until further notice”.
Reuters reported early Friday that Apple stopped in-store sales after police restrained a massive crowd, causing riot behavior and unsafe conditions for both customers and employees. Scalpers are very common in Chinese Apple Stores, buying up iPhone and iPad stock, causing limited availability of the device, and then selling them at higher than suggested retail prices.
This illegal activity has caused tensions in Apple Stores which consistently run low on stock iOS devices and has also caused a major headache for police who must manage crowds of angry people on a regular basis.
“The demand for iPhone 4S has been incredible and our stores in China have already sold out,” an Apple spokeswoman said.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to open our store at Sanlitun due to the large crowd. And to ensure the safety of our customers and our employees, iPhones will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being,” she said.
Apple’s decision to halt in-store sales is a smart one, because of the negative press that they would receive by allowing a riot in one of their retail stores. With sales halted, online sales will be increasing, which could possibly lead to a number of crashes and errors on the Apple Online Store. It’ll be interesting to see how Apple’s PR team will handle this situation as the days progress and the announcement of an iPad 3 gets closer and closer.