Apple’s iPhone 5s And 5c Launch Draws Big Crowds, Including Biggest Ever Line At NYC Flagship Store

Apple’s iPhone 5s and 5c are now on sale at retail and online stores around much of the world, and the general impression from consumers is one of high anticipation. In North America, lines are being reported at Apple retail locations everywhere, including what analyst and Apple watcher Gene Munster (via Mashable) calls Apple’s longest ever lineup for an iPhone device.

The line at Apple’s 5th Avenue NYC flagship store was 1,417 people long at 8 a.m. ET, according to Munster, which is 83 percent longer than the iPhone 5 line at the same time. Munster’s been keeping tallies on iPhone queue length since 2008 with the iPhone 3G, and that line was 549 people long. The next-longest after the iPhone 5s/5c was the iPhone 4, which attracted 1,300 to the flagship New York location.

Of course, Apple didn’t allow pre-orders for the iPhone 4, which is bound to drive more people to retail since they weren’t able to order early and just wait for the FedEx person to drop off their new devices. One good theory about why Apple didn’t offer pre-orders for iPhone 5s is because of supply constraints, owing to the technical challenge of building the new A7 64-bit system-on-a-chip, and the sophisticated new fingerprint scanner built into the 5s Home button.

Images and video have been coming in on social media channels from around the world showing long lines at various Apple retail locations, including the following shot from TUAW depicting an army of Apple employees preparing for the deluge:

Canadian queues also appear to be much longer than last time around, indicating there’s a strong appetite for the iPhone 5s in that market, too:

Just under an hour and a half remains before the store doors open in San Francisco, but there’s plenty of anticipation there, too:

All reports also seem to be echoing a common refrain of the new gold iPhone finish being the rarest and hardest to get your hands on, which is likely to do with a combination of that model being in relatively short supply to begin with, and it being attractive to buyers because it’s so different and unique from previous iPhone color options.

Apple hasn’t yet reported any numbers regarding its early iPhone pre-order amounts, but it’s almost guaranteed they’ll offer up some kind of figure of cumulative iPhone 5s/5c pre-orders after this initial launch weekend.