iPhone 5 fever strikes as queues form ahead of launch

Rumours of reported stock shortages leads to predictions of waiting lists

It is becoming an annual event. Queues were already beginning to form outside one of the world's biggest Apple stores in London's Covent Garden today, ahead of Friday's new iPhone launch.

Staff said they are expecting "hundreds" of people Friday morning, the store has doubled its security staff and extended opening hours to deal with the expected rush.

The willingness of some to spend a night on the street to get their hands the latest model is in part down to reported stock shortages at Apple HQ, leading to predictions of waiting lists of up to five weeks on pre-ordered phones.

But the company has promised its stores will have limited stocks on release day, which will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

On Monday, the company said those pre-orders numbered more than two million in just 24 hours, which is more than double the number of iPhone 4S pre-orders in the same time period.

"It's really not just about the phone for me. I mean you have to be a fan of course, but there's a real experience to be had by queuing up and being part of the event," said Ben Paton, 25, who was the first UK owner of an iPhone 4 and was reading Steve Jobs' biography in the queue outside the Covent Garden store today.

He added: "There's a great social aspect to this and every launch I go to - I was at the iPad 2 and iPhone 4 launches - I get to meet some fantastic people and we stay in touch. Some cynics seem to think we are bums on benefits or something, but I have taken three days' holiday from a good job to do this."

Mr Paton was third in the queue, one place ahead of his friend Eamon Yates, 26, who said he was frustrated at not being further forward.

Ahead of the pair were Peter King and Ryan Williams, who have been camped out for more than a week to raise money for Cancer Research.

Mr Yates said: "[It] is a great cause, and Peter's really drawing attention to his fundraising by being right at the front. I did think, 'If I'm going to do this I should do it properly' but I can't be too gutted because it is a charity that is close to my heart too."

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