SYDNEY Nov 2 Apple fans lined up in Sydney,
Australia, to get their hands on the iPad mini on Friday, but
the device, priced above rival gadgets from Google and
Amazon.com, attracted smaller crowds than at the company's
previous global rollouts.
About 50 people waited for the Apple store to open, where in
the past the line had stretched for several blocks when the
company launched new iPhones.
Apple Inc's global gadget rollouts are typically
high-energy affairs drawing droves of buyers who stand in line
for hours. But a proliferation of comparable rival devices may
have sapped some interest.
At the head of Friday's line was Patrick Li, who had been
waiting since 4:30 am and was keen to get his hands on the
"It's light, easy to handle, and I'll use it to read books.
It's better than the original iPad," Li said.
The iPad mini marks Apple's first foray into the
smaller-tablet segment, and the latest salvo in a global
mobile-device war that has engulfed combatants from Internet
search leader Google Inc to Web retailer Amazon.com Inc
and software giant Microsoft Corp.
Microsoft's 10-inch Surface tablet, powered by the
just-launched Windows 8 software, went on sale in October, while
Google and Amazon now dominate sales of smaller, 7-inch
Unveiled last week, the iPad mini has won mostly positive
reviews, with criticism centering on a screen considered
inferior to rivals' and a lofty price tag. The new tablet
essentially replicates most of the features of its full-sized
sibling, but in a smaller package.
At $329 for a Wi-Fi only model, the iPad mini is a little
costlier than predicted but some analysts see that as Apple's
attempt to retain premium positioning.
Some investors fear the gadget will lure buyers away from
Apple's $499 flagship 9.7-inch iPad, while proving ineffective
in combating the threat of Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire and
Google's Nexus 7, both of which are sold at or near cost.
Also on Friday, Apple rolled out its fourth-generation iPad,
with the same 9.7-inch display as the previous version but with
a faster A6X processor and better Wi-Fi.
Apple will likely sell between 1 million and 1.5 million
iPad minis in the first weekend, far short of the 3 million
third-generation iPads sold last March in their first weekend,
according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.
"The reason we expect fewer iPad minis compared to the 3rd
Gen is because of the lack of the wireless option and newness of
the smaller form factor for consumers," Munster said in a note
to clients. "We believe that over time that will change."
Reviewers have applauded Apple for squeezing most of the
iPad's features into a smaller package that can be comfortably
manipulated with one hand.
James Vohradsky, a 20 year-old student who previously queued
for 17 hours at the Sydney store to buy the iPhone 5, only stood
in line for an hour and a half this time.
"I had an iPad 1 before, I kind of miss it because I sold it
about a year ago. It's just more practical to have the mini
because I found it a bit too big. The image is really good and
it's got the fast A5 chip too," Vohradsky said.
The iPad was launched in 2010 by late Apple visionary Steve
Jobs and since then it has taken a big chunk out of PC sales,
upending the industry and reinventing mobile computing with its
A smaller tablet is the first device to be added to Apple's
compact portfolio under Cook, who took over from Jobs just
before his death a year ago. Analysts credit Google and Amazon
for influencing the decision.
Some investors worry that Apple might have lost its chief
visionary with Jobs, and that new management might not be able
to stay ahead of the pack as rivals innovate and encroach on its