Apple CEO Tim Cook calls China the company’s fastest growing market. But they didn’t add any sales to their total this past Friday when a store in Beijing was unable to open due to fears about the size of the crowd gathered for the scheduled launch of the iPhone 4S.
Apple said in a statement that it had temporarily suspended sales of all iPhones at its five locations in China due to concerns for the safety of customers and employees.
According to Mashable, a company employee announced the decision to keep the Beijing store closed to a crowd of over 1,000 through a bullhorn just after 7 a.m.
Reuters reported that the crowd became unruly, shoving matches broke out with police, and people began pelting the store with eggs.
The Los Angeles Times reported that people began gathering outside the Apple store in Beijing on Thursday. Some said they would pay $790 to $1,070 for the iPhone 4S.
The New York Times reports that heavy demand for iPhones in China has created scalpers who hire migrant workers to buy up supplies that they can resell at higher rates. Some migrant workers in the crowd outside the Beijing store said they were promised about $16 in payment for buying a phone.
According to the Washington Post, Cook said this past October that China’s quarterly sales had risen nearly four times from 2010 and accounted for one-sixth of Apple’s sales around the world.
Apple did not say when sales of the iPhone 4S in China would return, but their products were still available online.