Technologizer

Six Theories for the Possible Short Lines on iPad Mini Launch Day

It's not clear how robust demand for the iPad Mini is. But I have some theories on way it might be relatively low.

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The photo to the right is my fuzzy smartphone snapshot of my neighborhood Apple Store (at San Francisco‘s Stonestown Galleria) this morning, at about 8:30am, on the iPad Mini’s launch day. (I stopped by briefly on my way to work.) In case you can’t tell, it’s a picture of a store that’s mostly filled with employees, not frenzied consumers snapping up iPad Minis.

Now, an important disclaimer: One particular store at one moment in time doesn’t mean much of anything. It’s true that some reports say that the lines are atypically short this time around. But Fortune’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt who’s relying on actual headcounts, says that there may be near-record turnouts — at least at the stores where the headcounts were done.

But if it is true that this launch is less of a circus than most Apple-product debut days, let’s consider the possible explanations — or at least six of them:

1. The iPad Mini just isn’t that interesting. I doubt that’s the case. In fact, after reviewing it, I wouldn’t be stunned if its combination of a lower price and a smaller, cuter form factor leads to it outselling its larger-screen cousins.

2. It is interesting, but not so much to the hardcore Apple fans who wait in lines on day one.  I’m sure there are folks who wish to own a big iPad and a small iPad right this very moment. But there can’t be that many of them: Even most iPad fanatics will choose one size or the other. (Me, I’m sticking with my third-generation 9.7″ model.) Perhaps slightly more casual hardcore fans — the ones who already own one iPad, but don’t wish to own two iPads — sat out this launch. And the core audience for the Mini — people who aren’t smitten enough with the iPad to spend $499 or above on one — will presumably buy theirs at their own more leisurely pace.

3. People are waiting for the second-generation iPad Mini. Not a bad strategy, especially if it turns out to have a Retina display.

4. Everyone wants a cellular iPad Mini. They won’t be available for another two weeks or so.

5. Everyone got smart and ordered online. It’s the best way to buy an iPad, unless you like waking up at the crack of dawn and standing outside a shopping mall.

6. The iPad Mini is a quick sell. Selling an iPhone involves paperwork, activations and other complications. (When my wife bought an iPhone 4S, she was in the store for hours, and ended up having to conclude the transaction at an AT&T Store elsewhere in the mall.) Selling an iPad Mini is relatively painless: You determine which color and capacity the buyer wants, then run the credit-card transaction. So it’s possible that there was a good-sized queue at the store before I got there, and the Apple Store staffers (of which there were many) blew through it at a rapid clip.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d speculate that some combination of explanations #2 and #6 is at work here. But I also wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Apple releases initial sales figures next week which definitively contradict the whole “turnout for the iPad Mini was low” theory.

Got any theories or opinions — or reports from your local Apple Store — of your own?

21 comments
JimBrannan
JimBrannan

People say the Samsung ad snubbed the Phone but I thought it was a good ad for the iPhone. I like the headphone jack on the bottom because I always worried about a big raidrop landing in it while it was in my shirt pocket. And the last part where she asked "Is this where we get the apps?", says it all.

senseandsarcasm
senseandsarcasm

I think the size is perfect for me, but I'm certainly not going to run out and get one to replace my still-fine regular iPad.  Next time I upgrade, I'll get the mini...but there's no hurry.  I would imagine many people feel the same way. 

inglemike
inglemike

Two things. Its not the latest or greatest, it has nothing new to offer, its actually of lower content then a tablet that was discontinued. And I think those Samsung ads made the idea of being in Apple line up less cool (was it ever cool?) 

I do like it, as a gift for Christmas. Its easy and better (free engraving) to buy it online. I'm in no rush.

yellow_dog99
yellow_dog99

I think it has more to do with timing and low launch yields than anything else. The mini strikes me as more of a holiday gift (albeit a pricey one), so demand will tick up as we get closer to December. Like the iPod touch, I could see this as the 'gateway drug' into Apple's ecosystem for children/teens, since it is at a lower price than the regular iPad. 

The Apple store closest to me was packed Friday afternoon with a lot of people who looked at it, but the lack of 16GB models sent potential buyers (myself being one of them) back home. But given some of the positive comments I was hearing around me, I'm thinking the muted launch won't dampen sales down the line.

kemaltolan
kemaltolan

Perhaps, people expected very long lines and they decided to buy it later. Or, the iPad and everything from Apple is a very nice toy but not good for business and Microsoft is back with Windows 8.

Try to run this little app on a tablet and if it is running, it will be a great business tool, if not it is just a toy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2_wxkv2djg

This comment is paid for by http://lacs.xtreemhost.com

(political ads are silly, aren't they?)

nontech
nontech

Perhaps people aren't turning out in droves for the iPad Mini because they are wondering what exactly it is going to do for them that all of their other electronic devices don't already do. What is it going to do to make their lives easier? In what ways will it make them happier than they are now? How will it help them accomplish the things that they want to accomplish? Maybe people are asking themselves these questions with regard to the iPad Mini and having a hard time coming up with good answers to them, so they're deciding that they'd be better off spending their money on something else.

To think more about the effects of technology on our lives and our world, please take a look at my new blog, non tech, at www.nontechblog.com.

davidashcombe
davidashcombe

I, as I am sure is the case with many other iPad users, would really like to get an iPad mini - as an avid reader it would really be useful to have a lightweight device that I can hold in one hand. However, I see no point in getting a wifi only version, so there was no point standing in line for the initial launch. I also think Apple at the moment want to dampen down overenthusiasm given unrealistic analyst expectations, and so went for a staggered launch that would be less likely to give rise to long queues and hence overexcited sales projections. The iPad mini will likely build momentum more slowly.

TimoMoraz
TimoMoraz

They sold out online quick which to me makes sense since the majority of people who shop online are usually tech savvy enough to be up to speed on the Apple rumors of low yields at launch. As for the stores, the 7" tablet is a smaller market segment. I don't see hordes of people snatching up smaller tablets just yet. That may change once this product gets into people's hands. The Mini may appear to be just a smaller, less powerful iPad with "last year's tech". However, until you pick one up and use it, you don't realize how little you give up for the smaller form factor. The screen, while just "A LITTLE" bit bigger makes a huge difference. I've used the Nexus 7 which everyone keeps comparing the Mini against. Surfing the web on the Mini is so much better than the Nexus. In fact, it's identical to surfing on the larger iPads. The 16:9 screen on the Nexus squishes the browser window in landscape and renders too small in portrait. It's great for movies but I don't use a tablet to watch movies. I surf the web, read the paper, play games. I don't think your average consumer is going to realize the difference in screen size until they pick one up and use it. This may be the reason the lines aren't wrapping around the block. If buyers are shopping on specs and price alone, they're missing out. It's an iPad 2 that's done Pilates. 

zaglossus
zaglossus

A lot of people already have a tablet and a smartphone. Why would they also buy one of these? Of course if you don't have a tablet this one is worth a look.

Martian_14
Martian_14

Overpriced, as always....

Junkies can only get so much poison at a time. 

Eclvvin
Eclvvin

The iPad mini, like the iPod nano and iPod Shuffle, is a product designed to compete with marginal product segments. Jobs did not debut a 7" product initially, because he did not see this as a high demand segment. Why should we be shocked that demand is exactly what Steve Jobs predicted it would be years ago when he decided this was not a priority? What would be more interesting is to see if the lack of demand for iPod Nanos or Shuffles as compared to standard iPods was seen as dark omens for those products.

The build up of one year of anticipation for a product is not likely to be as great if new products are released every year outside of stores. What will be interesting is to see how product sales will do by basis of comparison to previous years. It may be that the tablet market, if we see drops in sales from various companies, has reached a point of maturation as is normal with various products.

AdamChew1
AdamChew1

Yes people are getting wise to Apple's tricks and others are catching up and Apple is clueless.

Looks like the tech bloggers have more persuasion in turning the tide against Apple.

Competition is good for all of us and without it we wouldn't have better products. 

I believe many of the people who made the comments here would want two companies to dominate the market namely google and MS. Good for you people.

IdanSamuelSolon
IdanSamuelSolon

Maybe once people saw a lot of people waiting on line, they figured there wouldn't be any left by the time they were to shop.  Apple products are usually in short supply & people had a lot of difficulty getting the iphone 5, so maybe they thought they'd be waiting for naught for the ipad mini.  It's probably a combination of all these reasons that have been given.  

weslehoffer
weslehoffer

Too expensive apple, sorry! Memory doesn't cost that much and we all know it!

stynkfysh
stynkfysh

3 Things.

1. The bulk of people who run out and buy iPad's just bought one 7 months ago and are not interested in buying an iPad 2 equivalent mini - especially when and iPad 4 was released on the same day.  In the past, we may have sold our iPad's to buy the Mini or the iPad 4, but the huge loss we just took due due to the unexpectedly refreshed iPad 4 renders either of the new devices more expensive than usual.  

2.  MANY people buying the smaller screened tablets tend to be eBook enthusiasts.  Unlike the cool apps that only run on iOS, eBooks run on any system just fine, so there is no benefit to them paying more for the iPad mini.  And it may actually be a better reading experience on the competition's tablets since they have higher resolution screens.

3. Apple is starting to look like a 2 trick pony - iOS devices and OSX devices - and that they are afraid to change them significantly for fear of having a misstep and losing mass market share.  Think of all the products Google has launched in the past 2 years, look what Microsoft has been up to, look what Apple has done... not much by comparison.  And people may be losing interest.

shoemeat
shoemeat

It's priced wrong - that is more of a core reason than featuring as a small part of another reason.

jkennedy
jkennedy

I want it. But it's hard to justify paying $325 when other tablets are < $299. I know the software is better. But the price needs to come down and be competitive. If there is a value add that makes it worth more than the Android, I need to hear it. Despite being an individual consumer, I still have to justify purchasing decisions. 

P.S. MichaelDriver - take it easy. The writer may well like Apple, but it's an opinion piece. It's _supposed_ to be biased. I'm a fan boy too, I guess, but I won't go back to MSFT, and Android's quality control doesn't look to ba ll that much better. Apple means quality to me. Sadly, quality alone can't justify a price so much higher than the market. 

just_guillermo
just_guillermo

another reason could be that most people have common sense and know that its over priced. 

MichaelDriver
MichaelDriver

Could it be people are finally getting wise to Apple's marketing tactics, and are becoming resistant to buying their new gadgets just because they're Apple? How about that Apple is too late to the 7" tablet market (so what-it has a LITTLE bit bigger screen!), and there are BETTER Android tablets, at lower prices, on the market? That the iPad Mini just doesn't fly with just being a scaled down iPad, at a ridiculous price? The writer of this article comes off as an Apple apologist/fanboy. How about some real, unbiased journalism about Apple products for once? All the media outlets come across EXACTLY the same regarding Apple products. They're so damned enamoured of Anything Apple, that they would rave about how well made, beautiful, and innovative an Apple branded toilet seat was!