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Apple (s aapl) has been facing a lot of negative attention lately owing to reports that it decreased orders to suppliers because of lackluster iPhone 4S demand, though some analysts disagree. The reaction to the launch of the 4S in 15 new markets on Friday, including Hong Kong, contradicts tales of flagging interest.
Hong Kong’s new flagship Apple retail store saw more than 3,000 people show up in hopes of getting their hands on a device or devices, but only 1,250 of those were allowed to actually line up. All new iPhone models were gone only three hours after the store opened. Many of the sales were apparently to people intending to resell the devices on the gray market in China, where the 4S has not yet made its official debut. Interest was no doubt also strong since Apple’s iPhone 4S pre-orders in Hong Kong sold out in just 10 minutes, so going out to stores was the next best chance to get a device early.
Police even had to break up altercations between customers and those waiting in line to secure devices for gray market resale, according to a report from M.I.C. Gadget.
South Korea also saw long 4S lines at Apple’s wireless carrier partner stores, since Apple doesn’t have any official retail outlets in the country as of yet. The first 100 people who pre-ordered their iPhones at SK Telecom were also invited to participate in pre-dawn activation celebrations with popular Korean hip hop stars.
Friday also saw the introduction of the unlocked iPhone 4S to the U.S. online Apple Store in addition to the international launches.