Once again, a BIG shout out to our wonderful Supply Chain Manager, who has been vacationing through Asia. Yesterday, he managed to take some great shots of the iPad mini launch in Hong Kong. And today, he got up at the crack of dawn to head to Shenzhen for the grand opening of the city's first Apple store. Someone give this man a big, fat bonus!   

In any event, Shenzhen, as most people are aware by now, is home to Foxconn, Apple's primary contract manufacturer for iOS devices. What most people may not know is that Shenzhen is one of the wealthiest cities in China and typically joins Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou as one of China's so-called "first tier" cities. So it's not surprise that Shenzhen is the first city outside of Beijing where Apple has chosen to open its first retail store. It also happens to be the center of the counterfeit electronics industry in China. Not 10 miles away from this official Apple store is an area called Hua Qiang Bei, replete with all sorts of counterfeit doodads. And a few "replica" (read: really, crappy, fake) Apple stores, of course.

For anyone who's ever been to an Apple store grand opening, it's quite a site to behold. This one was no different. Without further ado, here you are, along with some witty commentary from our esteemed colleague: 

"I'm told this says something to the effect of 'Apple Retail Store, Shenzhen Yitian Holiday Plaza, Grand Opening Guide'"

"The Apple store is right next to one of the subway exits at the "Window of the World" station. The store is actually on the lower floor, so people were trying to get a better view of the festivities below.

"The line was insane. Stretched for forever. Easily a few thousand people here."

"Little peek of the outer entrance from above before I joined the massive line below."

"Definitely no shortage of people. I'm bringing up the rear of the line here."

"Apple staff giving out bottled water. I was PARCHED at this point, to say the least. Just absolutely PARCHED."

"Ohhh that orb. That beautiful, glowing, mesmerizing orb. Just take my money now..."

"Finally in! A crapload of Chinese Apple fans. The store isn't one of the bigger ones I've been to. But still a cool store nonetheless."

"Looks like awesome service as usual."

"Apple employees. Crazy enthusiastic anywhere in the world."

"A packed iPad table. iPad 3, of course. I have to say, the only thing that was disappointing was the lack of new products like, oh, the iPhone 5, iPad 4th gen and iPad mini. None of them will be released in China for a few months. Ironic considering Foxconn, the manufacturer that assembles all these shiny toys, is probably just 20 miles away."

"It's that orb again. Take ... my ... money ..........."

"Shot of the outside from the second floor." 

Final comments: 

"China loves Apple, that's for sure. I'm just pissed I didn't line up early enough to get one of the commemorative t-shirts they were passing out. And this store also happens to be missing our line of iPad and iPhone accessories! We'll have to fix that. :)"