Nov.2 - Smaller than usual crowds for a global Apple product launch greeted the release of the new iPad Mini in several cities, which is priced above rival gadgets from Google and Amazon. Joanna Partridge reports.
Queues outside Apple stores aren't unusual, but normally - when a new product is launched - they're longer. The rollout of the new iPad mini did not inspire quite the same fervour as some past launches. But there were some - like this German shopper - who were prepared to go to extreme measures to be among the first to buy this scaled back device. He waited overnight. SOUNDBITE: Balasz Gal, iPad mini shopper, saying (German): "it's much easier to take out with you. A notebook and the old iPad were about the same size and meant you had to carry an extra kilo. Now it's only 300 grams, so it fits in your trouser or jacket pocket." With a screen size of 7.9 inches, the mini is looking to challenge rivals Google and Amazon. It's received mostly positive reviews, though its price tag and screen quality have come in for criticism. The tablet market is becoming increasingly crowded and competitive. Microsoft launched its 10-inch Surface tablet in October, powered by Windows 8 software. Apple has also started selling the fourth-generation full-size iPad, and it's now competing with itself says Ian Fogg, from IHS Screen Digest. SOUNDBITE: Ian Fogg, Head of Mobile, IHS Screen Digest, saying (English): "Will a consumer buy a brand new iPhone 5 and a iPad mini and a new Mac? Probably not, they'll probably choose one or two of those at most, so Apple is essentially complicating things for itself by so many innovative, brand-new products at the same time." In the past, consumers have been willing to pay a premium for Apple products, but Fogg says the market looks tougher this time around. SOUNDBITE: Ian Fogg, Head of Mobile, IHS Screen Digest, saying (English): "The economy globally is not as strong as it was, and that is having an impact in terms of consumer purchasing behaviour. And the question really is not whether the iPad mini a great product, I think it is. Not whether it's better than the opposition, I think it is. It's more about how much money, how much disposable income do consumers have." One analyst estimates Apple will sell between 1 and 1.5 million iPad minis in its first weekend. Its sales and those of rivals' slate computers will be closely-watched in the all-important run up to Christmas.