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Apple adopts anti-scalping measures ahead of Chinese iPad launch

post #1 of 13
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Apple on Thursday completed the first round of third-generation iPad reservations in China using a new reservation system meant to both keep crowds at bay and stymie scalpers usually present during big product launches.

The system is identical to the method employed when the iPhone 4S debuted in January and calls for would-be buyers to reservations on Apple's online store from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for an assigned next-day in-store pickup time.

Apple advertised the pre-order requirements in a press release on July 10, though it is unclear how many consumers got the message. As the The Wall Street Journal notes, some potential customers are already confused while others may not even be aware of the new approach. For example, when a popular account on China's Sina Weibo microblogging service sent out a message reminding followers of the pre-order process, another user replied, "pre-order means what? Every machine has to be ordered ahead of time?"

The Cupertino tech giant previously ran into trouble with the launch of the iPhone 4 and 4S as excited buyers crowded Apple Stores awaiting the release of the hotly-anticipated handsets. Earlier in January, the launch of Apple's newest smartphone was halted prematurely after an unruly crowd prompted a temporary stoppage of sales. Demand for the previous generation iPad 2 and white iPhone 4 was also high, and caused a scuffle outside one Beijing Apple store that resulted in a broken glass door.


Crowd outside Sanlitun Apple Store in Beijing following iPhone 4S sales stoppage in January.


While the ordering process may cut down on foot traffic it remains to be seen whether the tactic will effectively sidestep China's thriving grey market. In 2010 scalpers took advantage of a limited iPhone 4 supply by selling large numbers of just-purchased iPhones for higher-than-retail prices directly outside of Apple Stores.

Apple's newest-generation iPad with Retina display proved to be a hot-seller when the device launched in March, ringing up over 3 million sales in three days of availability.
post #2 of 13

This just means the scalpers will be the first to do all the reservations methink.  

post #3 of 13

I've been to China a few times (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing and Nanjing), and a couple of relevant characteristics that really stood out for me were:

 

first it's intensely crowded in these cities, especially in commercial/retail districts, and... 

 

second, when you go to a shop or stall that's selling something, there's never any sense of "first in line", everyone just piles on, pushes and bustles and fights to be first.

 

It's telling that outside the Apple store in the photo here, there no sign at all of traffic control devices. You know, the kind typically used to form lines and guide people away from becoming a massed mob at the entrance? Of all places that needs it most, it's here.

 

They do this is many other places, and it also enables the Apple Store staff to go out in advance and take "pre-orders" from people in line, so that when they go inside, it's really just to pay and pickup what they came for...

 

This works there too, by the way. Starbucks has divided "traffic lanes" on approach to the registers, and it works. Apple needs to do more to avoid the crazy mob riots that could easily lead to smashed glass and looting.

post #4 of 13
Yeah lining up and taking pre orderes by staff to help the lines go through faster is nothing new especially in hong kong. They do this even in McDonald's during lunch and dinner rush hours.

Problem in China there is not much education to line up and be civilized. Even if you have queues people will do anything to jump the queue. I seem to see that happen on a regular basis.
post #5 of 13
I'm glad they are doing something about it as I think it's their responsibility* to do their best to ensure people can buy their products safely and fairly but I agree that it doesn't look very promising.


* Note: there responsibility does not imply it's their fault when some asshats start a riot.

"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

 

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"There is no rule that says the best phones must have the largest screen." ~RoundaboutNow

 

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post #6 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

This just means the scalpers will be the first to do all the reservations methink.  

Not if they are doing it the same way as the phone.

That process
You sign up for which one you want to get. Each night the allotted number of units are randomly picked from the interested folks and they are sent a notice to confirm their purchase (and I believe pay for it). If they don't confirm or want to change even just the color they have to cancel and start again.

So even if the greys pre-order on day one they might not be able to get it for days. Meanwhile potential customers are buying them direct from Apple cause the greys haven't bought everything
post #7 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by moustache View Post

Yeah lining up and taking pre orderes by staff to help the lines go through faster is nothing new especially in hong kong. They do this even in McDonald's during lunch and dinner rush hours.
Problem in China there is not much education to line up and be civilized. Even if you have queues people will do anything to jump the queue. I seem to see that happen on a regular basis.

 

Yes, good point about it being an educational thing. Or simply a "culturally conditioned difference"…?

 

In the run-up to the Olympics, western-style toilets were being installed everywhere… being a "squat-toilet" culture, people didn't immediately get that it was a "throne" to sit on… for awhile a very common complaint was that the toilet was too tall and cumbersome a shape to comfortably climb up and squat on… (feet up on the "circular lid", squat style). It took a focused educational campaign, AND installing squats alongside to insure clean not recently walked on toilet seats. :D

 

 

I understand the Chinese mindset though. I hate "queuing" however civilized it may make us appear. Most times, if there's a line, I just don't go there. Few things are worth that humiliation for me (yes, I rather view queuing as a mild form of humiliation… ok it's complicated... ;)  But the dog-pile method isn't great either, so queues are the safer, lesser of the two evils I suppose...

 

They certainly need them for Apple product releases… it will only get worse as they gain in popularity there.

post #8 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post

 

second, when you go to a shop or stall that's selling something, there's never any sense of "first in line", everyone just piles on, pushes and bustles and fights to be first.

 

 

Not just shops.  Anywhere you might otherwise expect to see a line, there's always, invariably, a huge mob.

 

Cultural thing, I guess.

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post #9 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

This just means the scalpers will be the first to do all the reservations methink.  

 

 

Not if they limit it to one or two per government-issued ID.

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post

when you go to a shop or stall that's selling something, there's never any sense of "first in line", everyone just piles on, pushes and bustles and fights to be first.

 

     The culture in a lot of Asia (especially the South Pacific) just doesn't understand queuing or taking turns. Some places get it, Singapore to a degree, South Korea too... Japan is probably the world leader when it comes to being civilized about lines and waiting turns.

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"Picasso had a saying, 'Good artists copy, great artists steal.' And we've always been shameless about stealing great ideas."
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post #10 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by tribalogical View Post

. Apple needs to do more to avoid the crazy mob riots that could easily lead to smashed glass and looting.

If folks want to act like animals they will some tape won't stop that.

They had up such things for he iPhone and the resellers cut the lines to shove their way in front. Which pissed off the folks in line and started the whole mob game.
post #11 of 13

The new system turns out to have worked pretty well! That, or demand for the New iPad have fallen flat … ha...

post #12 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by SockRolid View Post

 

Not just shops.  Anywhere you might otherwise expect to see a line, there's always, invariably, a huge mob.

 

Cultural thing, I guess.

 

Definitely cultural… But it's human nature that "crowds attract crowds"… two or three people stop to ogle at something, draws another, then another and it increases exponentially… the fact that it's so crowded in cities like Shanghai, that can turn into a "mini-mob" really easily… I guess after awhile you just sort of have to roll with it? 

 

It's spontaneous flash mobbing!

post #13 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by AeronPrometheus View Post

 

     The culture in a lot of Asia (especially the South Pacific) just doesn't understand queuing or taking turns. Some places get it, Singapore to a degree, South Korea too... Japan is probably the world leader when it comes to being civilized about lines and waiting turns.

 

I spent almost 12 years living in Japan… it's definitely among the most civil countries I've ever been in. But when it comes to jostling and elbowing in an unruly mini-mob, the middle-aged "Obachan" of Japan can compete with just about anyone in the world… More than once I ended up with bruised ribs from an Obachan elbowing her way out of a crowded train! Brutal!! :D 

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