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Apple fans lined up in several Asian and European cities to buy the iPad mini Friday, but the device, priced above rival gadgets, drew smaller crowds than previous launches. That was true in Los Gatos, too. Bob Redell reports.
If the lines in Los Gatos on Friday are any indication of how hot the iPad mini is compared to Apple's other new releases in the past, well....the mini is a bit of a dud.
Only about 12 to 15 people lined up outside the Silicon Valley store by 6 a.m., with two hours to wait until the store was set to open. The lines had vanished 20 minutes after the store opened.
With past launches, including for the most of the new iPhone releases and the iPad, for example, lines were usually snaking around the block by then, with many eager customers even camping out overnight to get their hands on Apple's latest gadget.
One customer in Los Gatos who only wanted to be identified as Chris put it this way: It's the iPad mini with a "mini launch."
Phil Gluckman of Saratoga said he expected this low turnout. "They don't have a cellular version. I don't think that's exciting." As for why he showed up at the crack of dawn: "I'm here for my wife. I'm a nice guy."
That lackluster showing appears to be a global phenomenon.
Reuters reported that lines in Toyko and Seoul were about 100 people long in line early in the morning, but in Hong Kong, Apple employees seemed to outnumber the customers.
In Europe, the lines were shorter, too.
Reuters reported there were about 100 people in Amsterdam, and only 50 people at a London store after the Cupertino-based company opened its doors.
The Washington Post noted that smaller crowds lining up on the first day of sales can often be a good indicator of how excited the company's core fans are about the latest gadget.
At least on the East Coast, though, the newspaper pointed out that Hurricane Sandy might be affecting customer energy for the mini.
And then there's the growing use of online sales. Maybe customers are flocking to their computers to buy the products because they're getting tired of sleeping out in the streets.
Apple said that there is a two-week wait time to receive a mini if you buy one online. That means if you want one for Christmas, orders should be placed by Dec. 10.
The diminished overnight camping phenomenon to buy an Apple gadget doesn't mean Apple is going to tank by any means. Stores were selling out of the mini - it just took longer than other products typically have. By noon, the store in Palo Alto had almost sold out.
The iPad mini marks Apple's first jump into the smaller-tablet segment, and it's competing when many other similar - and lower priced - tablets. 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 multimedia tablets.These tablets all cost between $150 and $250.
Unveiled last week at the California Theater in San Jose, the iPad mini's critics have focused on a screen considered inferior to rivals' and a much-too-pricey price tag. The Wi-Fi model costs $329.