iPad Mini launches to middling lines, muted expectations

The iPad Mini is here. So what kind of sales performance will the new Apple device turn in? 

Customers queue outside the Apple store in Covent Garden, London, to buy the new iPad Mini, which launched today.

Apple has an uncanny ability to whip up fandom. What other company can lure hundreds of people to a wait in line for a gadget launch – and have the press call that a weak showing?

Well, the iPad Mini arrives today. If anecdotal evidence is to be believed, the lines out there are relatively short, at least compared to the crowded and blockbuster launches of devices such as the iPhone 5.

In Hong Kong, according to CNN, there were only a few Apple fans hovering around the flagship store. Fifty people were queued up outside a story in Sydney, and 100 in Amsterdam, Seoul, and Tokyo, Reuters reports

So yes, substantial interest, but from far from the typical all-consuming pandemonium. 

Still, plenty of analysts remained optimistic about the Mini's chances. 

"We continue to believe that while launch lines and initial weekend sales may not be as impressive as previous iPad launches, the iPad Mini will be a hit product for Apple and become a more significant part of the story over the next 2-3 quarters," Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray wrote in a note to clients obtained by MarketWatch

Apple doesn't necessarily need the iPad Mini to be a grand slam. (It's a "tweener" device, after all, and plenty of folks who already have an iPhone and a full-sized iPad aren't going to fight to get their hands on a device that falls somewhere between those two in size and power.) What it needs is for sales to be slow and steady, thus strengthening Apple's steely grip on the tablet market and edging out competitors such as Amazon and Google – two companies that also make 7-inch tablets. 

In (somewhat) related news, a few enterprising reviewers have decided to "drop-test" the Apple iPad Mini and the Google Nexus 7 – a drop-test, in this case, being the act of dashing an expensive piece of electronic hardware. 

"Not surprisingly," notes Craig Lloyd of Slashgear, "both tablets ended up with cracked displays, but the Nexus 7 actually took more of a beating than the iPad mini. The rear casing eventually snapped off, and bits of plastic were broken off, as well as bits of glass from the display. The iPad mini’s display actually survived the first round, only receiving damage on the corner."

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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