A report released by Reuters this morning indicated that only one person was waiting outside the Apple store (AAPL, quote) in Shanghai’s financial district. But the Apple store on Shanghai’s posh Huaihai Road tells a different story.
This morning I got up at the crack of 9 a.m. to head down to the Apple store at Hong Kong Plaza on Huaihai Road to witness the Apple frenzy. However, given the high number of iPhone 5 pre-orders — 300,000 on China Unicom’s (CHU, quote) network alone — combined with Apple introducing a tiered early reservation system that allowed customers to sign up for time slots between 7:30am and 10:00am in order to avoid the chaotic opening rush, the crazed scenes of scalpers pelting the Apple store with eggs was unlikely to transpire.
Arriving at the store a few minutes before the 10 a.m. open, there were roughly 50 non-Apple employees/potential customers outside. Some were obvious scalpers, waiting to pick up a phone for a wealthy patron unwilling to deal with the hassle of an iPhone launch. Many had empty backpacks, presumably to pick up multiple handsets. As one would expect given iPhone trends in China, a number of the folks waiting for the iPhone were 20-something females. However, there was unequivocally more than a lone customer waiting for the new phone.
While the report issued by Reuters is not false, it is misleading. Going to the Apple store in the financial district at nine in the morning (when the store does not open until ten) is not going to yield the same results as going to the Apple store in the more well-to-do area of Shanghai across the river. And because Apple made a concerted effort to spread out iPhone pickups and encourage pre-orders to obviate the possibility of the ugly scenes that occurred at the 4S launch, traders should not be surprised that a true frenzy did not take place. It would be overly reductive to assume that the Apple story in China is over because of some selective story-telling.
Disclosure: Author is net long AAPL