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Scalpers dial up trouble for iPhone release

By Wang Huazhong (China Daily)

09:17, January 10, 2012

BEIJING - Conflicts among hundreds of scalpers raring to stock up on the new iPhone 4S are casting a shadow over the gadget's launch on the Chinese mainland on Friday.

Over the weekend, scalpers from two groups bickered and shoved each other when standing in line to purchase iPhone 4 at Apple's Sanlitun store, said witnesses.

Workers from two Apple stores in Beijing told China Daily the stores have not started online bookings for the iPhone 4S so far.

"More than 1,000 of us have gathered to buy all the available iPhone 4 this morning," said a scalper hawking the phone outside the Sanlitun store on Sunday.

"We'll come again on Friday for iPhone 4S. You'll have no hope of getting an iPhone 4 or 4S from the store, but only from us."

The scalpers are asking 4,450 yuan ($705) for an 8-gigabyte iPhone 4, and 5,450 yuan for a smuggled iPhone 4S. Apple sells an 8-gigabyte iPhone 4 on the mainland for 3,988 yuan.

An Apple employee at the Sanlitun store who declined to give her name told China Daily on Monday that the store was aware the scalpers may be planning to besiege the iPhone 4S launch, and the store has prepared for that.

Calls to the public relations office of Apple China went straight to voice mail.

Police of the Sanlitun police station refused China Daily's interview request.

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