Last week we reported on Chinese smuggling rings that buy up iPhones to sell for a big profit in China, but now that the iPhone is finally officially sold at Chinese Apple stores, the problem only seems to have gotten worse.
At first the Sanlitun store in Beijing kept things at a low simmer by limiting sales to two iPhones per customer, but then they dropped the sales limit and all hell broke loose. Gangs of scalpers were jumping the line and getting into fist fights with regular retail customers, then once the store had sold through their stock, they would stand outside flogging the iPhones to disappointed empty-handed customers as they left the store.
Eventually the store was forced to close for a couple of hours while Apple called in extra security. When they reopened, a new policy allowed for only one iPhone per customer, and you had to activate it right there in the store at the time of purchase. Hopefully peace will follow.
Part of the problem seem to be that with no online sales in China, the only place where you can buy a contract-free iPhone is at one of Apple's four retail stores. Here in the US we have plenty of people who are desperate to get their hands on the latest iPhone, but at least our nerds seem to be a pretty peaceful lot.