Apple halts iPhone 4S sales in China as crowd turns ugly

Beijing Apple store is egged during near riot as consumers fight to buy latest smartphone
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Apple halted the release of its iPhone 4S at retail stores in Beijing and Shanghai on Jan 13 after a riot almost started outside one of its stores in the Chinese capital. (All images courtesy of Getty Images)
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An angry mob of people who had waited overnight pelted the store with eggs and assaulted a mall manager after employees refused to open as scheduled.
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Carolyn Wu, an Apple spokeswoman in Beijing, said the company's five authorized stores in China had sold out of the iPhone 4S
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The US tech giant had shut its Beijing stores amid safety fears as the crowd of customers grew, said Wu
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Police officers move to seal off the area near Apple's Beijing flagship store
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People started converging Thursday outside the Apple store in one of Beijing's most popular high-end malls. Some brought sleeping bags
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Tension grew overnight and through the early morning as prospective buyers sought positions near the front door
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Fights broke out between bands of migrant workers who had been hired by scalpers to purchase the phones for later sale on the gray market
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Chinese policemen guard as people wait outside an Apple store all night before the mainland release of the iPhone 4S
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Apple's five official stores in China -- three in Shanghai and two in Beijing -- generate more revenue on average than any other Apple stores in the world, the company said last year
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Police officers seal off the area near Apple's Beijing flagship store on January 13, 2012 in Beijing, China. Chinese angry crowd shouted and threw eggs outside Apple's Beijing flagship after it failed to open on schedule Friday to sell iPhone 4S. (Getty Images)