updated 04:35 pm EST, Sat January 1, 2011
Meizu M9 launch queues reach hundreds
Meizu kicked off the new year by launching the M9 on a wider scale in its native China. Reports and photos from Meizu stores in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen showed lineups that would typically be reserved for Apple launches in Europe and North America, with queues reaching into hundreds or thousands. Some were known to have cued as early as 8PM the night before.
In contrast, photos of third-party iPhone resellers showed a much quieter scene, although these don't necessarily reflect Apple's sales rate. It has continued to sell out in the country but usually sees most of its activity at China's few Apple stores in Beijing and Shanghai, with resellers only getting a smaller amount. Apple also sells the iPhone 3GS directly online but has had to hold off on similar behavior for the iPhone 4 due to gray market resellers snapping up phones that would otherwise go to end buyers.
The turnout versus the M8 isn't currently possible to quantify but has garnered much more attention than in the past. Meizu has been a relatively successful brand in China but may have been hurt by its decision to base the M8 on a heavily customized Windows CE. Early adopters have credited the M9's popularity to not just upgraded hardware but a decision to switch to the much more advanced Android 2.2.
Apple has routinely accused Meizu of copying its ideas and may have tried to prevent the M9 launch by arguing it was too similar to the iPhone. The M8 was originally designed to imitate the iPhone, and both it and the M9 have similar interface elements. However, Meizu's American rival may have lost any alternative but to compete on features as a patent challenge may have given the Chinese firm safe harbor for at least its hardware design.