Western reporters looking for long lines at the Beijing Apple Stores were looking in the wrong places.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Chun Han Wong found the scene Friday morning outside the Apple Store in Beijing’s upscale Sanlitun district “decidedly low-key.” It was a stark contrast, he wrote, to the near riot that greeted the launch of the iPhone 4S in January 2012.
Too bad nobody tipped off the Journal’s Beijing bureau that the real action Friday was somewhere else — at the outlets of China’s three major mobile carriers, which began selling the new iPhones at midnight.
The Apple stores in China are selling unlocked phones and charging the full unsubsidized price. To get discounts and subsidies, Chinese customers had to buy direct from the carriers or from one of Apple’s 6,700 authorized resellers.
If Wong had been to one of those stores, he might have come across scenes like these:
More where those came from.
The lines in China were subdued thanks to an iPhone pre-order policy put in place after the 2012 launch, but they weren’t that subdued.
UPDATE: The Wall Street Journal piece was widely picked up and taken as evidence that iPhone sales in China were a disappointment. But nobody took it quite as far as The Register’s Jasper Hamill:
That’s how Apple memes get started.