The iPhone 5 launch draws crowds for first-day sales

The queue outside Philadelphia's Walnute Street Apple Store Friday morning.

The iPhone may be five years old, but it still knows how to draw a crowd. Early Friday morning, hundreds of people queued up at many Apple retail stores around the world for the chance to be one of the first  to emerge clutching an iPhone 5 box. Despite some some serious concerns about the phone’s new mapping software expressed Wednesday and Thursday, Friday’s iPhone 5 launch looked to be business as usual for an iPhone debut.

Reports are pouring in Friday morning from reporters who ventured to inspect the lines.

  • Ten minutes before the doors of New York City’s Fifth Avenue Apple Store, Fortune counted 820 people in line.
  • CNET said there were about 700 people queued up in front of Apple’s retail store in the shadow of the Paris Opera House even after the doors had opened.
  • Tokyo’s Ginza district also saw “hundreds” of people waiting outside Apple’s store early this morning, according to the Huffington Post.
  • And once again in San Francisco, the big story about the line-waiters this year is the “Task Rabbits,” hundreds of folks who were paid to save line spots for those either too sleepy or too busy to claim a spot overnight. (via Bloomberg)

That’s just a sampling of the line situation so far this morning. But those in-person sales worldwide, combined with the online orders Apple has already taken — some 2 million iPhones were pre-ordered in the first 24 hours last week — mean this is shaping up to be the biggest iPhone sales debut yet.

Pictured above: the line outside Philadelphia’s Walnut Street Apple Store Friday morning.

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