iPad mini Released In China: Draws Scalpers, Not Crowds

By Prarthito Maity | Dec 08, 2012 10:18 AM EST

While Apple’s previous reservation-only system in China may have stopped mass riots from breaking out during product launches, it has done very little to stop the scalpers from having their ways with the newly released iPad mini.

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The iPad mini was released on Friday, Dec. 7, in China and surprisingly there were not huge crowds waiting outside to get their hands on one. This is a very different turnout compared to the release of the iPhone 4S back in Jan. 2012. However, the ones who did turn up for the iPad mini launch were mostly scalpers looking to resell and profit from the device. Apple's recently instituted rules have made it difficult for scalpers to get in the way of legitimate customers.

Chinese customers, per rules, must participate in an online lottery one day in advance to purchase an iPad mini at one of the company's seven retail stores in China. Those who are selected are limited to two iPad minis, provided they bring photo identifications.

The Cupertino-based company, per a WSJ report, “instituted the iReserve system in China after a near-riot occurred during the release of the iPhone 4S in January, leading police to seal off part of the flagship store in Beijing’s high-end Sanlitun Village mall. The state-run Xinhua news agency later blamed the chaos on a clashes between rival groups of scalpers vying to buy up as much of the stores limited supplies of the device as possible.”

This system was put into practice after rowdy crowds and riots shook Apple’s iPhone 4S release in China nearly a year ago in January. The fracas caused Apple to postpone sales of its previous flagship handset, which drew thousands of customers to the country’s five Apple retail locations. China currently has seven Apple stores.

“On Friday morning, Apple’s Sanlitun store opened to no crowds, but a large group of scalpers was standing a hop and skip from the store entrance collecting iPad Minis from Chinese customers in exchange for cash. Behind them, on a nearby bench, sat tall stacks of the devices,” the WSJ report further states.

To make the situation worse, a group of scalpers surrounded a Wall Street Journal reporter who was trying to film the scene. The group was angry at what they said was an invasion of their privacy.

Moreover, after the reporter pointed out that they were conducting business in a public place “they proceeded to kick, swat and push him as Apple and mall security stood by.”

Apple previously announced its Chinese release dates for the company’s most recent products at the end of November. Later, on Friday, Dec. 14, the iPhone 5 will go live in China.

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