Apple 2.0

Covering the business that Steve Jobs built

iPhone chaos in Beijing

September 30, 2010: 2:55 PM ET

Apple's flagship store was shut down briefly after scalpers tussled with the other customers.

Photo: M.I.C. Gadget

The Chinese blog M.I.C. Gadget tells a bizarre story of Apple (AAPL) temporarily lifting its two-iPhones-per-customer limit Wednesday, a policy change that opened the door to gangs of scalpers that quickly took over the store.

"This is crazy," writes Chris Chang in slightly fractured English. "The real customers and the iPhone 4 scalpers had a fight in the Apple store. A gang of scalpers were cutting the queue and some customers were fed up with the scalpers for buying large quantities of iPhone 4 and resell them outside the store. The police and Apple's own security staff appeared to clean up the mess and due to the chaotic crowd, the store needs to be closed temporarily."

According to Chang, scalpers were seen leaving the store with 20 to 30 iPhones at a time. "These 'customers' then lurked outside the store ready to pounce on any passers-by who is checking out for iPhone 4. 'Want to buy an iPhone 4?' they say. 'We have a lot. Come with us.'"

By Thursday, order had been restored as Apple staffers began asking to see customers' IDs and limiting them to one iPhone apiece. It's not clear what inspired Apple's Beijing store to change its two-iPhone limit in the first place, especially given that supplies of the device have been short.

Via 9to5Mac.

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[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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About This Author
Philip Elmer-Dewitt
Philip Elmer-DeWitt
Editor, Apple 2.0, Fortune

Philip Elmer-DeWitt has been following Apple since 1982, first for Time Magazine, and now on the Web for Fortune.com.

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