They had come from miles around and stood in sub-zero degree weather for hours, patiently waiting for the store to open its doors. Today was iPhone day in Beijing! But when the doors did open, the huddled masses were told there would be no iPhone 4S, not today. And then shit got real.
Apple customers at the flagship Beijing Apple store on Friday nearly rioted after standing in negative 20 degree temperatures overnight only to be informed that the store would not begin selling the iPhone 4S that day. Reportedly, no other explanation was given and the crowd expressed its displeasure by pelting the storefront with eggs. Fights and scuffles between citizens and police also broke out in the pre-dawn hours.
According to one witness, Huang Xiantong, "Around 5 a.m. the crowds in the plaza broke through and the line disappeared entirely. Everyone was fighting, several people were hurt. The police just started hitting people. They were just brawling." Order was restored approximately five hours later. [Yahoo News]
Update: The BBC is now reporting that Apple has announced its decision to halt all Chinese in-store sales of iPhones (including the non 4S models). This is in response to the unrest at the Beijing flagship store on Friday. [BBC News]