July 20, 2012
iPad China Launch Uneventful
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
When Apple finally won their exhaustive legal battle against bankrupt display makers Proview Technologies, they were finally able to bring their newest iPad to the East. They weren´t legally obligated to keep it out of China, mind you, simply exercising caution.
So, when Apple announced they´d start selling the new iPad in China, many wondered if the people of China would react in the same way they did when the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S was released there. Scalpers made a mess of both releases, packing the Chinese Apple stores and crowding the lines before launch. Once the stores opened for the iPhone 4 launch, scalpers rushed in and snatched up as many smartphones as they could, only to set up shop directly outside of the store and began selling the phones at a markup. The crowds had become so large at one store for the iPhone 4S launch, Apple refused to open to store for fear of their employees´ safety. The crowd responded by pelting the Apple store with eggs.
Apple has, of course, learned their lesson from these launches, and has since implemented a lotto system to determine who will be able to place a pre-order.
For today´s iPad launch, Apple began taking reservation requests on its online store daily, from 9 am to 12 pm, beginning the day before launch. These customers were able to select a time to come and pick up the devices, nice and orderly like.
After today´s relatively yawn-worthy launch, it appears Apple has finally figured out how to launch a product in China, making sure the products are sold to actual customers instead of opportunistic scalpers.
According to ZDNet, only 40 customers were waiting outside of the Apple store at Sanlitun in Beijing. When the doors opened at 8 am, 2 hours later than usual, no one was trampled, no fights broke out between customers, no scalpers and no one threw eggs.
"I very surprised that there is no line. I thought there was going be a long line so I came over a bit earlier to pick it up,” said Sun Xufei, customer number one in the short queue.
According to The Next Web, iPads in China will continue to be available only through reservations indefinitely as Apple continues their fight against scalpers. One customer outside of the Lujiazui store said they preferred the new reservation-only method over the releases of the past.
“My friend came here last year and queued for the whole day. So I think the process now is much more convenient,” said Wang Yue, 26, speaking to Reuters.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, however, the small lines this morning could be due to lack of interest. After all, with all the talk of a new, smaller iPad, some in China may be practicing patience as they hold out for the very latest in Apple gear.
China has been a huge part of Apple´s recent growth, with Tim Cook saying they´ve only scratched the surface in terms of saturation and profitability. In the second quarter of 2012, Apple earned nearly $8 billion from sales in China alone. When Apple gives their latest financial earnings call next week, it´s likely we´ll hear more of the same.
It´s also been suggested that Apple will announce the release date of their new operating system, Mountain Lion, on this earnings call, which boasts many China-specific features, such as sharing to popular Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo.