, ROME, Nov 2 – Shoppers got their hands on Apple’s new iPad mini Friday, launched with less fanfare than previous incarnations amid talk it might have come too late to the 7-inch tablet computer market.
The ghost of Apple founder Steve Jobs hung in the air two days after Halloween as the company tried to lure shoppers with a slim black tablet computer it insists is more than just a shrunken version of its wildly popular iPad series.
The event stirred little of the excitement associated with previous Apple products however, generating only small lines of devotees at flagship stores around the world.
In suburban Milan, a couple of dozen such fans were treated to coffee and buns offered by the local Apple store.
“I got up at 6:30 in the morning but it was worth it,” said Daniele Messi, a 20-year-old marketing student who was first in line there.
“I decided to buy it even though I already have all of Apple’s other products, I love them,” he added.
Earlier in the day, around 300 people had queued up outside Apple’s main store in Tokyo, some wearing fancy dress, to buy, or at least touch the new product.
Around 20 people had camped out overnight outside the shop, but the queue disappeared quickly following an initial rush.
In tech-mad Singapore numbers were well down on previous launches, while in Hong Kong around 30 people queued to collect their pre-ordered devices.
There was nothing like the days-long queues for the new generation iPhone 5 in Sydney.
“Looks like most ordered it online,” one person in the small Hong Kong queue told reporters.
Nevertheless, acolytes said they were impressed by the physical charms of the 7.9 inch (20-centimetre) touchscreen device that weighs less than half the original iPad, at just 308 grams (0.68 pounds).
“It’s completely different,” insisted Ayano in Tokyo, who did not give her surname.
“It is thinner and very light. Look, you can hold it in one hand.”
Around three dozen markets in Asia and Europe, as well as the United States, were due to see launches of the Wi-Fi only version on Friday.
Market analyst Loo Wee Tech, head of Consumers Electronics Research said the new tablets “failed to excite” a sector that has grown accustomed to ever more amazing gadgets over the years.
“What iPad Mini offers is a form factor that is useable with one hand and fits easily into most females’ handbags,” Loo noted.
He forecast that despite structural liabilities that included “the lack of readily available and reliable Internet access and wifi hotspots,” Apple would move a lot of its product.