It's January 13, which means that Chinese iPhone buyers in China should already have new iPhone 4Ss in their grubby little hands. That is not the case, however, due to a disastrous launch day that generated safety issues, forcing Apple to suspend the launch in all of its mainland China stores. As it turns out, our description of the Chinese iPhone launch being a "feeding frenzy" wasn't too far off.
The story started off exactly as we expected: there were huge crowds outside of Apple's five mainland stores full of prospective buyers (plus scalpers)—like the iPhone lines in the US, many had waited overnight to get their hands on a new 4S. When the stores didn't open exactly on time, however, the crowds started getting rowdy, causing store employees to become concerned for their own safety and that of the customers. At that point, according to several accounts (covered by NPR and the New York Times), police reportedly ordered that the stores not be opened, and Apple announced over a megaphone that the launch was cancelled. As a result, some members of the crowd began pelting the stores with eggs and a number of kerfuffles broke out.