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Snow brings a cool reception for iPhone 5

(China Daily)

09:06, December 17, 2012

Staff members outnumber customers at an Apple Inc store in Beijing's Wangfujing shopping district on Friday as the company's iPhone 5 smartphone debuts. [Wang Jing / China Daily]

Apple Inc's iPhone 5 made a low-key debut on the Chinese mainland on Friday, with overnight snow in Beijing preventing a repeat of the chaotic scenes that greeted its predecessor.

Few people lined up outside the company's stores in the capital to buy the new smartphone, in contrast to January when the arrival of the iPhone 4S sparked pandemonium.

The crowds, scalpers and poker-faced security guards who greeted the iPhone 4S had disappeared on Friday. Two iron fences stood in front of the Joy City Apple store to control crowds but no one was waiting in line.

Occasionally, cheerful shouts from staff could be heard from inside the store. A few people stopped and asked for sales details of the new phone, but went away without buying.

"I was told that I had to make a reservation online first," said Wang Lu, a woman in her 20s, near the Joy City shop. "Even if I apply right away, there is no chance I can pick up a phone today."

Apple imposed a reserve-and-pickup policy after the chaotic scenes in January involving scalpers at Beijing's Sanlitun store. Since then, customers have had to apply online and attend a drawing to secure a phone.

"The method has been quite effective," said a Beijing Public Security Bureau official on duty at the Joy City store for the iPhone 5 launch.

"I remember more than 1,000 people were waiting around the store for an iPhone 4S in January. But now it's totally different," the official said.

An iPhone 5 with 16 gigabytes of storage but without a telecom contract costs 5,288 yuan ($846). China Telecom Corp Ltd, the nation's smallest mobile operator, is selling the smartphone for 5,088 yuan on contract to attract buyers.

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