iPad mini launch generates miniature queue

The iPad mini went on sale this morning, but London's flagship Apple store was lacking devotees.

The iPad mini went on sale this morning, but at Apple's London flagship shop there weren't many early adopters to be been.

Outside the Covent Garden branch of Apple's glossy retail empire, a modest clutch of Apple devotees were in line to pick up the company's new, teeny tiny tablet.

The group of shoppers awaiting the 8am iPad mini launch was drastically smaller than the mob that gathered to purchase the iPhone 5 , however.

October's smart phone queue saw Apple acolytes lining several sides of the central London square, spilling out across several more streets to boot. Apple may have anticipated more enthusiasm for the iPad mini's debut -- I saw lengths of unused barricade stacked against one side of the square.

I've seen my fair share of Apple queues, and this was by far the smallest I can remember -- but that did lend today's launch a more informal atmosphere. I saw blue-shirted Apple staff chatting happily with the queuing collective, while employees inside the shop were lavishing all the usual cheers and enthusiasm on those who had turned up.

I spoke to Craig Jobbins, who'd been waiting since 3:30am to acquire a black 64GB iPad mini. "It got particularly cold," he told me.

"We discovered a warm spot," Craig said laughing, "if you sit on the lights of the store outside, you can warm up.

"I did expect it to be slightly busier than this," Craig told me. "I did an iPhone 4S event and we had to be ushered and split apart because it was overcrowded."

I asked Craig, who teaches art and design to students with disabilities, what he was looking forward to about the mini. "The fact that it's going to be easier and lighter to carry around," he said. "My working conditions mean that I'm constantly on the road."

Is he tempted by rival tablets? "No, I've had experience using different ones, and nothing comes close, even Windows' new operating system is extremely poor."

The mini has been criticised by some (myself included) for its high price compared to the Nexus 7 and the  Kindle Fire HD . "There's always a slight premium to their products," Craig said. "But it's the quality of them that makes the difference, so I think people are more willing to pay that difference."

It's tough to hypothesise why today's event was so low-key compared to previous Apple launches -- perhaps the colder November weather put more people off, or perhaps the fact that the mini was revealed so soon after the iPhone 5 meant shoppers had little time to get excited.

It'll certainly be interesting to see how the mini performs in terms of sales. Do you think it'll be popular, or may Apple have slightly missed the mark on this one? Tell me in the comments or on our Facebook wall.

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About the author

Luke Westaway is a senior editor at CNET and writer/ presenter of Adventures in Tech, a thrilling gadget show produced in our London office. Luke's focus is on keeping you in the loop with a mix of video, features, expert opinion and analysis.

 

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