FORTUNE -- Some time before midnight in New York (1 p.m. Beijing), China Mobile's (CHL) Beijing reservation website switched to attached image, strongly suggesting that the world's largest mobile carrier -- with more than 750 million subscribers -- was getting ready to offer Apple's (AAPL) iPhone 5S for sale.
"Something worth waiting for," reads the banner, according to the Wall Street Journal's translation.
When an AppleInsider reader named Jeffery snapped the first screenshot, the visitor counter displayed the number 3,004. By 6 a.m. Eastern (7 p.m. in Beijing) -- six hours later -- the counter hit 17,525 and was increasing at the rate of one every two seconds. Whether those numbers represent reservations or just page views is not clear.
Proof that the long-awaited Apple-China Mobile deal has been consummated? Not quite. But evidence, perhaps, of pent-up demand.
If you want a free repair at a Beijing Apple Store, be prepared to pay.
FORTUNE -- When Wang Bin's iPhone 4S developed a glitch, he went online to book a slot at the nearest Apple Store Genius Bar.
Mr. Wang, a correspondent for the Beijing Morning News, soon discovered that every appointment at all three Beijing Apple Stores had been booked four weeks in advance.
They'd been snapped up by scalpers MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jul 30, 2013 7:12 AM ET
It's hard for Apple to keep his meetings secret when he's photographed at every turn
The quality of the photos coming out of Tim Cook's China trip improved significantly when Apple (AAPL) assigned a professional photographer to document its CEO's travels.
We know, thanks to press photos and amateur snapshots popping up in Chinese social media, that Cook met with China's vice premier and Beijing's mayor, stopped by two Apple Stores and visited MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 29, 2012 5:49 AM ET
He didn't fly to Beijing just to pose with shoppers at an Apple Store
Thanks to a quick-thinking customer who spotted him, snapped a couple photos and posted them on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site, we learned Monday that Apple (AAPL) CEO Tim Cook was in Beijing, at least for a few hours.
Leaving aside the iconography of an Apple CEO setting foot in the world's largest market for iOS devices, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Mar 26, 2012 2:44 PM ET
Retail fail: SWAT teams move in after fights break out among rival gangs of scalpers
There may be no graceful way to launch an iPhone in a country of 1.3 billion that has caught what one analyst calls "Apple fever."
In a frightening parody of the snaking queues that greet the launch of new Apple (AAPL) products in the U.S., thousands of would-be customers massed outside the company's stores in Beijing and MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 13, 2012 5:23 AM ET
Massive crowds gather at Apple's five stores in the world's largest mobile phone market
UPDATED with amazing photos from Beijing by Feng Li via the Mercury News.
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Penn Olson's Steven Millward reports from Shanghai that crowds several city blocks long have formed outside Apple's (AAPL) stores in Beijing and Shanghai hours before the scheduled release of the iPhone 4S Friday morning.
Although China Unicom (CHU) will begin selling the device for MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - Jan 12, 2012 11:43 AM ET
The rapidly expanding Beijing-based startup sells luxury goods to affluent Chinese consumers. What it knows about them could become the envy of established luxury brands around the world.
By Reena Jana, contributor
FORTUNE -- Despite global economic turmoil, the Chinese luxury market is still expanding at a dizzying rate -- by 16% in 2010 according to McKinsey. Not surprisingly, Shangpin -- a new Beijing-based, members-only e-commerce site -- is growing dramatically too.
The MORESep 14, 2011 3:03 PM ET
By Bill Powell, senior writer
Investors are pitching the Zuckerberg-Gates-Google model of college-kid startups at China's prestigious universities. And the kids are into it.
FORTUNE -- IPOs from Chinese tech companies -- in e-commerce, social media, mobile applications for tablets and smart phones -- in just about anything in the so-called TMT (technology,media, telecom) universe have been coming with such relentless frequency that they're hard to keep track of, especially from afar. So MOREJun 2, 2011 12:51 PM ET
A line-cutting fracas that broke a window and injured four is reportedly "resolved amicably"
It turns out that the clearest account yet of the incident Saturday -- described by some observers as a "riot" -- that left blood and broken glass outside Apple's (AAPL) flagship store on Beijing's Sandilun Road was published Monday in the People's Daily, the official organ of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party:
"According to reports, MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 9, 2011 4:21 PM ET
By the time doors opened at Beijing's flagship store, the queue was 1,000 customers long
Remember all those iPad 2s purchased in the U.S. for re-sale in China's gray market? Their sell-by date arrived early Friday, when Apple authorized sales of the iPad 2 began at the company's four Chinese retail outlets and the China Apple Store online.
As a crowd estimated by a security guard at roughly 1,000 lined up outside MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 6, 2011 11:43 AM ET
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