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China's iPad 2 Launch Turns Violent

Queuing up for the launch of a product you’ve been eagerly awaiting is usually a lot of fun. Among other things, you get to meet like-minded fans dedicated enough to camp out, rain or shine, just to get their hands on that new console, phone or game. Indeed, it’s that dedication that often catches the eye of the media. However, it seems the Chinese launch of a new Apple product is attracting attention for all the wrong reasons. Reports trickling in say that several customers queuing up at a Beijing Apple store had to be hospitalized after a bust-up with an Apple employee.

The details and timeline of what exactly went down are very hazy. In fact, reports regarding the incident are inconsistent as to what device these customers were even queuing for; both the white iPhone 4 and the iPad 2 recently launched in China and are in very high demand. The general gist of things is that hundreds of people queued up to buy one or the other and staff had to close the shop door as the crowd started to get a little out of hand. Though refusing everyone entry until some order can be restored seems like ‘Overexcited Queues 101,’ things apparently got a lot more dramatic than that.

At some point, a foreign Apple store employee is said to have gotten into an argument with several customers he believed had tried to cut in line. 9to5 Mac cites unverified witness statements that say he beat them with a metal club, while the AFP reports he is alleged to have "stepped into the crowd to push and beat" them. After the employee retreated back into the store, the big glass window in front was smashed by the angry crowd. Four people were hospitalized with injuries.

The Wall Street Journal cites Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu as saying the group "became unruly" and employees "acted to protect themselves and our customers by closing the doors and preventing the group from entering." However, so far, the company has offered no clarification as to what happened. The store closed for several hours on Saturday following the incident but was open for business again come Sunday morning. Shoppers seeking a white iPhone 4 now have to reserve a unit online before they can come into the store. 'Walk-in' iPad 2 purchases are still allowed.