Apple iPad mini draws New Yorkers; crowds thin elsewhere

Fri Nov 2, 2012 6:18pm EDT
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By Liana B. Baker and Noel Randewich

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc's iPad mini hit stores around the world on Friday, attracting sparser crowds than previous Apple launches, but the kickoff still drew hundreds of New Yorkers only days after one of the biggest storms to hit the United States.

A proliferation of rival gadgets aimed at the holidays and cheaper tablets from Google Inc and Inc may have sapped interest in Apple's latest bet, resulting in shorter lines outside stores from Tokyo and Amsterdam to Sydney and Hong Kong.

The 7.9-inch iPad mini marks Apple's first foray into the smaller-tablet segment, and is the company's first major new device since the death of its co-founder, Steve Jobs, last year.

In Manhattan, crowds braved crippled public transit and an early morning chill to line up outside Apple's Fifth Avenue flagship store just two blocks from where a damaged crane dangled from a high-rise building - a stark example of how superstorm Sandy ravaged the city.

Some turned up on impulse, lacking power and heat at home.

Lisa Sieber, 59, from Germany, rode a bicycle to the store because she said she was going "stir crazy" at her 81-year-old mother's home in Manhattan's Lower East Side.

"There's not much to do without power and lights," she said. "I didn't think I needed an iPad but once you get your first Mac, you slide into the iPhone and the next one and it makes it easy to get more Apple products."

While the city was still grappling with Sandy's unprecedented devastation, some New Yorkers were angry that Apple delayed the store's opening until 10 a.m.   Continued...

Apple employees share high-fives with customers who has been waiting in line to purchase the new iPad minis at Apple Store Ginza in Tokyo November 2, 2012. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao