iPad 2 launch at Sanlitun store in Beijing marred by violence

Mon, May 9, 2011


While the launch of a new product at Apple store often attract long lines of dedicated Apple users, nerds, line lovers, and of course, greedy re-sellers, it’s usually a safe bet that everyone in line is respectful and civil with each other.

A different story, however, emanated from China over the weekend where Apple’s iPad 2 officially launched to extremely long lines. Precise details of what transpired remain somewhat murky, but here’s what we’ve been able to deduce thus far.

First of, we should illustrate that the iPad 2 launch was a huge event, attracting untold throngs of people. Below is a photo courtesy of AppleInsider showing the iPad 2 line at Apple’s flagship Sanlitun store in Beijing.

But something mid-day went awry and the Apple Store had to temporarily close for business after an alleged altercation between an Apple employee and money seeking resellers turned violent, resulting in a shattered window. Four people were reportedly injured, and one reportedly was taken to the hospital.

The Chinese Mac site Macx reported that a “foreigner” had knocked several people over, though notes that there are a few reports of varying accuracy floating around and that it’s hard to determine what’s true and what’s not. One other story relays that a near-riot almost erupted after Apple tried to close the store and rush people out through a back entrance.

Meanwhile, 9to5Mac received the following account of what transpired. Note, though, that this retelling is unverified.

According to my friend who was at the Sanlitun Apple Store when the incident took place, 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 46,000USD, according to an apple employee at the store. Then 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.

That’s some expensive glass, ya’ll.

One final account from Sina reads:

According to witnesses, there were people tried to cut in front of the line in the afternoon, and caused chaos. There were frictions while the securities tried to keep the order, then a foreigner (possible an Apple employee) came out of the Apple store, beat up a few of the people waiting in the line, then went back into the store. The crowd requested to follow-into the store to find that person (who used violence), were denied entry by the security, that’s when the glass door of the Apple store was crushed. According to some, that foreigner (called John), was wearing Apple uniform, possibly an Apple employee, but hasn’t been confirmed officially by Apple yet.


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