updated 12:31 am EDT, Fri November 2, 2012
Apple expected to sell up to 1.5M units over first weekend
MacNN has received reports that people camped out overnight in New Zealand and Australia to be among the first to purchase the iPad mini as it officially went on sale at Apple retailers in the two countries, which are 20 hours ahead of the west coast of the US due to time zone differences. The lineups, which are much shorter than those for the iPhone 5, are most people's first opportunity to get their hands on the product, since pre-orders sold out quickly (within a few hours for the white model) and only a few customers have received theirs early.
The 8-inch iPad mini (and fourth-generation, 10-inch iPad) went on sale at 8AM local time in New Zealand, the first country with an Apple retailer to get the products in stock. Because the new iPad models came out so quickly following the third-generation iPad, and because the holiday buying season is only just getting underway and will be in full swing when there is more stock, the urgency to acquire one immediately on launch may not be as strong. NBC News reported around 50 people waiting in line ahead of the store opening Sydney, Australia, and mentioned that a handful of people are already in line for the new products in New York City, where they face a longer wait and still-inclement weather.
Analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffrey expects Apple to sell between one and 1.5 million iPad minis in the opening weekend, about half the number Apple sold of the third-generation iPad when it launched last March. One factor that may be affecting sales is the lack of a cellular-capable model, which is not available online but is expected later this month. Both of the iPad mini's main perceived rivals -- the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire HD -- lack any cellular capability, while the cellular version of the iPad mini will support both 3G and "4G" LTE connections worldwide.
Munster is also predicting about a 20 percent cannibalization rate of iPad minis taking sales away from the fourth-generation, 10-inch iPad. Even if true, the figure suggests that Apple can afford to sacrifice some full-size iPad sales to both stop customers from buying rivals' smaller tablets as well as open up the potential audience for its own tablet line by offering more than one option. Schools and families in particular may find the iPad mini to be a superior choice over both smaller, 7-inch tablets and Apple's full-size iPad when it comes to affordability or when buying for students, children and others who don't need the added screen size and other features.
Electronista got some early hands-on time with an iPad mini and filed a hands-on "first impressions" report on the device. It echoes the findings of most other early reviewers and specifically finds the Mini to be a better product that the Nexus 7 the reviewer had previously been using. [photo via James Griffin on Twitter]