Mini lines greeted the arrival of the iPad mini Friday, a stark reversal from the frenzy at Apple stores in September when the iPhone 5 launched.
At the Grove shopping center in the Fairfax district in L.A., about 30 people waited in line ahead of the 8 a.m. on-sale time. The earliest shopper arrived at 4 a.m.
Third in line was 32-year-old Brett Hodgson, who arrived at 5:30 a.m.
“I expected more people to be here, to be honest,” said Hodgson, a rugby player from England. He bought a 64GB white iPad mini, which he wanted on the first day so he could use it on his flight to Australia Friday night.
“The iPad itself is a brilliant product, but I just wanted a smaller one, so this is perfect for me,” he said.
By 8:10 a.m., shoppers who walked up were able to immediately enter the store, which had all six Wi-Fi-only models (16GB, 32GB and 64GB in black and white) available. Minis with a cellular data plan will be released in two weeks.
Shopper Zhao Zhao Zhu, 23, was also among the first to get his hands on a new iPad mini. The University of Arizona grad student bought a 16GB black version and said he planned to use it for school.
Despite the iPad mini’s higher price tag and lower screen resolution compared with rivals (the iPad mini has the same screen resolution as the iPad 2, meaning no retina display), Zhu said choosing the device over competing tablets was easy.
“It’s not just the resolution that matters, the size matters,” he said, referring to the iPad mini’s 7.9-inch size, larger than the 7-inch tablets sold by Amazon and Google. “I know it’s worth it.”
Lines reportedly were short at other Apple stores across the country. That wasn’t the case in Manhattan, though, as hundreds of New Yorkers shrugged off the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy to wait in line for the mini.
Apple’s stock was down Friday morning. At noon Pacific time, shares had slipped $15.24, or 2.6%, to $581.30.