In Beijing, China, angry customers and gangs of scalpers threw eggs (video below) at Apple Inc.’s flagship Beijing store today after its opening for the China launch of the iPhone 4S was canceled due to concerns over the size of the crowd.
Apple reacted to the scuffle by postponing iPhone 4S sales in its mainland China stores, but did say that the phone still will be sold online and through its local carrier.
(Yes, someone photoshopped Jason into the mob photo… it is Friday the 13th after all. Full size is down at the bottom of this post.)
It’s a sad fact of human nature that the drive to get our hands on gadgets and gear has the power to make us act completely insane. Remember the Wal-Mart customer who nailed 20 other shoppers with pepper spray on Black Friday 2011?
So join us in a trip down memory lane, where we examine the release of three products that, like the iPhone, have displayed the power to make people act crazy.
1. Air Jordans: You sneaker heads and your Air Jordans. Back in the ’80s, when the shoes were first released, suburban kids were told not to wear the pricey basketball shoes in certain neighborhoods for fear they would be mugged for a pair of sneakers. Thirty years later, the shoes have lost none of their potency. When Nike released its much-anticipated Nike Air Jordan XI Concord ($180) in late December, there were reports of violence and mayhem all across the country as customers fought with fists, knives and guns to keep a coveted spot in the front of the line.
2. The iPad2: Beyond inspiring people to wait on absurdly long lines, even in unpleasant weather conditions, the release of the iPad 2 also inspired some violence. In New York City police were summoned to an Apple store in Manhattan to break up angry crowds who thought scalpers were keeping them from getting an iPad of their own. And Apple was forced to close one of its Beijing stores after an Apple employee reportedly tried to forcefully stop people from cutting in line the day after Apple’s iPad 2 release in China. A near-riot ensued, which ended in a smashed storefront window and four people being rushed to the hospital.
3. Tickle-Me-Elmo: The Tickle-Me-Elmo craze of the late ’90s was a dark time for parents. Responsible adult behavior went right out the window as moms and dads became violent in their attempts to get the toy for their children. In one notorious incident a Wal-Mart worker was knocked unconscious by a gang of 300 parents who happened to spot him unloading the toy onto shelves.
Now, speaking of Tickle-Me-Elmo… and a case of “coulda-shoulda-woulda’s”. I HAD a Tickle-Me-Elmo which I had purchased before Thanksgiving… before the frenzy hit. It was for one of my young nephews. Then I found out that someone else had bought him one, so in early December, with receipt in hand, I returned to the toy store for a return/refund. After arriving back home, was on the phone with a friend and commented on my day and returning the toy (which I had actually thought about keeping for myself because it was cute – now I wish I had). Oh, boy… she TRIPPED! “Where?! When?!” Still being unaware of the frenzy, as I was not a big news-watcher in these days, I told her and asked what the big deal was. She kindly informed me, and I then set down the phone and started kicking my own ass. I lived in Indianapolis at this time, so as Christmas drew near, I kept a watch in the newspapers’ classified ads (as that is how items were bought and sold still), and lo-and-behold, on Christmas Eve Day, I saw someone willing to pay up to $2,000 for a Tickle-Me-Elmo.
I cried, then kicked my ass some more.