This year's iPhone lines match -- or better -- 2012's, analyst says

Lines at Apple's 5th Avenue store in Manhattan are up, but those at other locations are about the same or slightly higher compared with last year, says analyst Gene Munster.

Hundreds of people await the iPhone 5S and 5C launch at Apple's Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan.
Hundreds of people await the iPhone 5S and 5C launch at Apple's Fifth Avenue store in Manhattan. Sarah Tew/CNET

The volume of customers waiting in line for new iPhones has prompted Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster to stick to his forecast that Apple can sell 5 to 6 million handsets before the weekend is over.

Tracking early-morning lines at a few Apple Stores on Friday, Munster and his team found an 83 percent jump in eager buyers at Apple's flagship 5th Avenue store in New York City . Specifically, 1,417 people were already in line at 8 a.m. local time, compared with 775 people in line at the same time last year waiting for the iPhone 5.

The surge in customers could have been affected by the lack of iPhone 5S preorders. Last year, the iPhone 5 scored 2 million preorders during the first 24 hours. And the 5th Avenue store boom hasn't yet been seen at other stores tracked by the analyst.

Lines at Apple Stores on the Upper West Side in Manhattan and in Minneapolis were about flat or slightly up compared with last year.

Of course, these are just preliminary figures based on a few select stores. But in an investors note released today, Munster said he remains comfortable with his projection of 5 million to 6 million iPhones sold over the entire launch weekend. That number includes both of the new iPhones, though the analyst said the vast majority of people waiting in line seemed to be interested in the 5S and not the 5C.

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