A smaller launch for a smaller tablet: new iPad mini arrives in stores

iPad mini notes and camera

No Apple device launch can compare to the in-store debut when a new iPhone goes on sale. That includes the iPad mini: The 7.9-inch iPad, along with a revamped fourth-generation full-size iPad, hit stores in 33 countries countries on Friday morning and was greeted by shorter first-day lines than we’re used to with new Apple devices.

Reports from around the world were rolling in by Friday morning:

  • Lines in some major Asian cities were decently long: 100 people reportedly queued up at a store in Tokyo and the same number outside of an Apple Store in Seoul. But at a Hong Kong Apple Store, “staff appeared to outnumber those waiting in line,” Reuters reported.
  • In Australia, an early line dwindled within an hour as Apple Store doors opened and customers picked up their new small tablet, CNET Australia noted.
  • In London, stacks of barriers used to control crowds were deemed unnecessary for the relatively small turnout at the Covent Garden Apple Store. It was “the smallest [Apple queue] I can remember,” a CNET UK reporter¬†wrote Friday morning.
  • I had assumed many people in New York City had more pressing concerns than waiting on line for a new iPad, but plenty of people still turned out. Fortune reported that by about 8 a.m. ET there were already 550 standing in line. But the storm was not without its impact: the Fifth Avenue Apple Store’s opening was delayed two hours so employees could make their way into work via a severely overtaxed local transportation network.
  • San Francisco’s main Apple Store also saw about 100 people lining up as the shop opened, the Financial Times‘ Tim Bradshaw posted on his Twitter account.

This smaller initial turnout wasn’t completely unexpected. Analysts seemed convinced even before Friday that while sales over the long-term of the device will be good, it wasn’t going to be pandemonium outside Apple Stores as it has been for some past iPhone launches. Some Apple watchers predicted first-weekend sales of the iPad mini would range from 1 million to 1.5 million. That’s a third to half the 3 million new third-generation iPads Apple sold in the launch weekend in March, and only about 20 percent of the first-weekend sales of the iPhone 5, which were 5 million.

This post was updated at 8:22 a.m. PT to include San Francisco’s turnout.

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