The iPhone gold rush is on.
In what has become a worldwide ritual, people lined up around city blocks in Tokyo, braved the rain in Berlin and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in London on Friday to get their hands on Apple’s latest creation.
The waits were long and, in one case, violent: Two men in line outside an Apple Store in Pasadena, Calif., were arrested after they got into a fistfight. The men were issued misdemeanor citations, said Pasadena police Lt. Jason Clawson. There was no word on how the fight started.
This particular iPhone frenzy is fed by bling: The 5S, as this generation is called, is available in a muted gold. Supplies of that model are expected to dry up quickly.
That was expected to be especially true in China, where gold symbolizes wealth, happiness, purity and fulfillment. Apple customers there also said they were proud that, for the first time, Chinese could buy the new iPhone on the same day as Americans.
In Beijing, at the biggest Apple Store in Asia, security guards kept a line in order. Egg-throwing broke out at the previous launch.
People were waiting eagerly in the United States, too. In New York, the line at the flagship Apple Store was 1,417 people at 8 a.m., according to a financial analyst who has kept track since 2008 and spoke to CNBC. That was 83 percent longer than the line for the previous model, the iPhone 5.
They lined up a day ahead at the Apple Store in Miami Beach, and they camped overnight on Boylston Street in Boston — chairs, blankets and coffee at the ready.
And prominent iPhone fan showed up at the Apple Store in Palo Alto, Calif: Apple CEO Tim Cook. He looked at the crowd and said, “Wow,” according to NBC Bay Area.
NBC News Technology: What to expect if you’re in the market for an iPhone 5S or 5C
Sean Gallup / Getty Images Europe
Yahor Papkouski, who had come all the way from Belarus with friends and spent the night outside the Berlin Apple Store, wears his sleeping bag as he buys two Apple iPhone 5S smartphones.
In Berlin, Yahor Paplouski, who came all the way from Belarus for the release, was so excited that he couldn’t take the time to shed his sleeping bag. He wore it into the Apple Store, where he picked up two phones.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, a customer reported that the gold phone sold out long before the gray and silver options.
Apple topics were trending online, but all that Twitters is not gold: #Apple made the list of top talkers in the United States, as did #iOS7, the new operating system for iPhones and iPads, but not the new color.
Besides the gold option, the iPhone 5S is the first to offer touch security: It can recognize fingerprints for people who don’t want to bother entering a four-digit passcode.
Katie Little of CNBC contributed to this report.
First published September 20 2013, 5:53 PM