Only two people wait for iPhone 5 launch at Beijing Apple store

Apple finally launched its iPhone 5 in China on Friday

As Apple launched its iPhone 5 in China on Friday, interest at one of the company's stores in Beijing was muted, with only two people waiting in line minutes before the store opened its doors at 8 a.m.

"I thought there would be more people," said 21-year-old Tian Jishen, who was the second person in line on what was a snowy day in the city.

It was a major contrast from 11 months ago when Apple launched its iPhone 4S in China, and a massive crowd of hundreds had gathered outside the same store located in Beijing's Sanlitun district. The customers were later told the store was canceling its first-day sales, prompting one person to throw eggs at the building, which resulted in Apple suspending all iPhone 4S sales at its physical stores in China.

Since then, Apple has instituted an online reservation system at its company stores in China, which appears to have reduced the lines, and prevented further incidents. At the Apple store in Beijing's Sanlitun district, only about ten customers trickled into the store during first half hour after it opened.

Despite the initial low turnout, making an iPhone 5 reservation on Apple's site is not easy, according to Tian, who successfully registered for an order only a day earlier.

"I thought I had no opportunity," he said, after trying to register numerous times. "I've had friends try making a reservation, but they failed."

Analysts are divided on whether the iPhone 5 will sell well in China.

Low-end handsets are currently driving the growth in China's smartphone market, and many high-end users are switching to Samsung handsets, said Gartner analyst Sandy Shen in an interview last month. Apple's iPhone 5 starts at 5,288 yuan (US$841) when bought without a contract.

"I think the high-end market is already saturated with Apple's product. People that should have an Apple product, already have one," she said. "If you ask them to upgrade to the iPhone 5, I don't think they will have a strong enough drive to do it because of the lack of innovation in the new iPhone."

In the third quarter of this year, Apple fell out of the top five among China's largest smartphone vendors, according to different research firms. But some say this suggests "pent up demand," as customers waited for the iPhone 5 to arrive. On Monday, mobile carrier China Unicom said iPhone 5 online reservations reached over 300,000 within the first week of taking requests.

Canalys analyst, Jingwen Wang, said early adopters in China will already have bought the iPhone 5 from the country's gray market vendors. These unofficial vendors have been selling the iPhone 5 for the past two months, buying the product overseas from the U.S. and Hong Kong where it is already selling.

Outside of major cities including Beijing and Shanghai, where Apple has no company stores, consumers will likely resort to buying the iPhone 5 online, or through one of China's major electronic retailers, she said.

23-year-old Hong Tiantan, however, wanted to buy his iPhone 5 from the Apple store in Beijing's Sanlitun district and was able to make a reservation only the day before. He was the first one in line, and said he arrived early because his reservation gave him an hour window between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. to buy the product.

"I highly regard Apple and its apps," he said. Hong also owns an iPhone 4S, but said he needed to replace it after its glass covering cracked when he dropped it on the street.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags smartphonesAppleiPhoneconsumer electronics

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Michael Kan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?