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China's iPhone mob tops list of consumers going crazy

January 13, 2012 |  1:55 pm

Near riot at Apple store in China

A riot over iPhones? It may sound extreme, but an angry mob pelted a Beijing Apple store with eggs Friday after Apple announced that it would halt the release of its iPhone 4S at retail stores in China.

Apple said shuttering the stores was necessary to protect its employees and customers from the unruly crowds, many of them scalpers, that had started assembling outside the night before the phone's release.

It's a sad fact of human nature that the drive to get our hands on gadgets and gear has the power to make us act completely insane. Remember the Wal-Mart customer who nailed 20 other shoppers with pepper spray on Black Friday 2011?

And some products are more likely to inspire a frenzy than others.

So join us in a trip down memory lane, where we examine the release of three products that, like the iPhone, have displayed the power to make people act crazy.

1. Air Jordans: You sneaker heads and your Air Jordans. Back in the '80s, when the shoes were first released, suburban kids were told not to wear the pricey basketball shoes in certain neighborhoods for fear they would be mugged for a pair of sneakers. Thirty years later, the shoes have lost none of their potency. When Nike released its much-anticipated Nike Air Jordan XI Concord ($180) in late December, there were reports of violence and mayhem all across the country as customers fought with fists, knives and guns to keep a coveted spot in the front of the line.

2. The iPad2: Beyond inspiring people to wait on absurdly long lines, even in unpleasant weather conditions, the release of the iPad 2 also inspired some violence. In New York City police were summoned to an Apple store in Manhattan to break up angry crowds who thought scalpers were keeping them from getting an iPad of their own. And Apple was forced to close one of its Beijing stores after an Apple employee reportedly tried to forcefully stop people from cutting in line the day after Apple's iPad 2 release in China. A near-riot ensued, which ended in a smashed storefront window and four people being rushed to the hospital.

3. Tickle-Me-Elmo: The Tickle-Me-Elmo craze of the late '90s was a dark time for parents. Responsible adult behavior went right out the window as moms and dads became violent in their attempts to get the toy for their children. In one notorious incident a Wal-Mart worker was knocked unconscious by a gang of 300 parents who happened to spot him unloading the toy onto shelves.

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--Deborah Netburn

Photo: People line up outside an Apple store waiting to buy the newly launched iPhone 4S in Beijing on Jan. 13. Credit: Diego Azubel / EPA

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