|The Chinese launch of the iPad mini went smoothly on Friday, but was still plagued by scalpers, notes the Wall Street Journal. At Apple's flagship Sanlitun store in Beijing, numbers are said to have been smaller than at some other product launches, and generally well-behaved. Scalpers, though, are reported to have been "out in force," despite new rules at Chinese Apple Stores designed to deter them.
Apple began a reservation system in China after violence broke out during the launch of the iPhone 4S in January. The eruption was eventually blamed on a conflict between gangs of scalpers, each trying to buy up as much store stock as possible and leaving some legitimate buyers out of a phone. For the Mini, shoppers must enter an online lottery one day in advance, and if selected they can only buy two units at a store after producing photo ID.
Today's launch saw no long lineups, but instead a "large group" of scalpers not far from the entrance, paying cash to shoppers in exchange for their new Minis. In one incident some of the scalpers surrounded a Journal cameraman, claiming he was invading their privacy. When the cameraman pointed out that they were operating in public, the scalpers started kicking, hitting, and pushing him, without any interference by Apple staff or mall security.
One Apple worker explained that he couldn't protect people outside the boundaries of the store. "I suggest you donít film here, or film from farther away," he offered. Apple has declined to make any official comment, and the Sanlitun Village mall has yet to respond to questions.