The release of the iPhone 4S at Beijing and Shanghai retail stores on Friday was stopped when it started a riot. When the store refused to open as scheduled, a group of customers that had waited overnight threw eggs and attacked a mall manager.

Apple spokeswoman in Beijing Carolyn Wu said the company’s five authorized stores in China had sold out of the iPhone 4S; the Beijing store was prevented from opening because of the large crowd. “To ensure the safety of our customers and employees, [the] iPhone will not be available in our retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai for the time being,” Wu said.

The main reason for the tension was that people wanted the phone without a plan, and were willing to pay $790 to $1,070 for the iPhone 4S alone. Another point of restlessness were people hired by scalpers who wanted to later sell the phone on the gray market. “Ninety percent of the people here are scalpers,” said a man surnamed Jin, who said friends recruited him to stand in line.

Apple’s sales in China rose from $3 billion to $13 billion over the last two fiscal years and Apple’s five official stores in China generate more revenue on average than any other Apple stores in the world. Bill Bishop, a Beijing-based technology consultant, said that Apple helps stoke this attitude that leads to riots by pushing back and limiting releases. “It’s a conscious marketing strategy by Apple, and it’s going to cause a problem because things are ridiculously out of control,” he said. “Nobody can be happy with Apple today in Beijing.”

Source: L.A. Times