In an attempt to avoid uncontrollable throngs and scalper activity at the launch of the new iPad in China, Apple is using a new reservation system similar to the method it resorted to when the iPhone 4S hit the country in January. Future buyers must make reservations on the company’s online store from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. to pick up their device at an assigned time next day.
Although the pre-order requirements were advertised in a press release on July 10th, it remains uncertain if the message actually reached a majority of consumers. Some Sina Weibo users, for instance, were buffled when a popular account on the Chinese microblogging service reminded its followers of the newly adopted reservation process.
Previously, Apple already ran into trouble with the release of the two previous models, as anxious shoppers crowded retail stores awaiting the debut of the longed-for handsets. Back in January, the company was forced to halt the iPhone 4S launch following several violent outbursts in the lines. Fights outside Apple’s outlets aren’t new. At the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 launches, several customers started a scuffle that resulted in a shattered glass door.
While the new reservation strategy may help Apple curb foot traffic, it is uncertain if the company will be able to protect its new product from scalpers. Back in 2010, grey resellers took advantage of constrained iPhone 4 inventory by distributing large numbers of new handsets they had just purchased in an Apple Store right in front of its door at higher-than-retail prices.
When Apple’s latest Retina iPad debuted in other markets three months ago, it proved to be a hot-seller, with over 3 million units snatched away in first three days of availability.