Apple's iPad Mini went on sale Friday around the world, but the downsized version of Apple's genre-defining tablet computer was greeted with little of the hysteria that usually greets the launch of Apple's new products.
At Apple stores around Silicon Valley, lines were short to non-existent when doors opened at 8 am (1500 GMT), in marked contrast to the hoopla seen at previous Apple launches.
"I'm surprised that there weren't more people here," said Jessica Li, who turned up at 6:30 am outside the Apple store in Palo Alto, California, to nab one of the new devices. "I came at the same time to get an iPad 2 last year, and there were hundreds of people in front of me."
Technology news website Cnet.com reported that the device sold out in Apple's flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York in two hours - though demand may have been concentrated there because other Apple stores in the city were still closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
The debut of the new device came at the start of a holiday shopping season in which Apple faces stronger competition than ever before for its tablet computers.
Microsoft last week launched the Surface RT, a tablet-laptop fusion that was warmly reviewed, while the Nexus 10, a collaboration between Samsung and Google, was announced Monday. The iPad Mini is challenged by a bevy of popular 7-inch tablets from Google and Amazon, which offer similar specifications to Apple's latest device but are more than 100 dollars cheaper.
The muted welcome for the new device prompted some to question whether Apple was in danger of losing its mobile dominance.
"iPad mini launch sees mini queues: Is Apple losing its grip?" Computerworld asked. "Today's product launch has failed to attract the massive queues which usually greet release of a fresh Apple product."
Nevertheless, the Apple device sold out in pre-orders, and analysts expect it to be a hit - even though some fear it might cannibalize sales of Apple's regular iPads.
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 in 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."
Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu was also bullish about the device's prospects.
"We continue to believe that the iPad mini is the competition's worst nightmare and will likely slow down the adoption of competitor tablets," he said in a note to investors.
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