As I battled through the blustering wind toward Toronto's Sherway Gardens, I expected to soon be swept up by a crowd of eager Apple enthusiasts ready to get hands-on with the iPad mini. Instead, I saw tumbleweeds.
Considering Apple's usually constant ability to get people to jump aboard the always-moving hype machine, I was a little, but not completely surprised by the lack of consumer interest. I mean, really, you can only release so many iPads in such a small period of time.
Needless to say, this is just one account of one store. In all likelihood, other stores in other regions that released the iPad mini today may have been packed to the brim with shoppers. However, I can only go on what I witnessed firsthand.
Right away, I was struck by the fact that there was no line up whatsoever, nor were there any velvet ropes positioned out front to manage some semblance of a line. After that I turned my attention to inside the store, where I saw lots and lots of open space and very few customers rushing to make an iPad mini purchase.
I soon sauntered in and decided to check out the 7.9" tablet for myself. This was a rather easy endeavour, as I was one of maybe 8-10 shoppers in the entire store previewing an iPad mini. Out of that modest bunch, maybe two individuals looked like they could be swayed to make a purchase before leaving the shop.
When I half-jokingly said to an Apple Store associate, "Not quite the same crowd today as you had for the iPhone 5," he had a pretty interesting response that I didn't anticipate hearing. This blue-shirted hero figured that the lack of a customer turnout today was due to the fact that the iPad mini is a device that's targeted toward a more "mature" consumer base, compared to the iPhone 5. Umm...right. I don't buy it.
In September at the iPhone 5 launch, I didn't go around and check IDs or anything, but I can say that - at least to the naked eye - it looked as if individuals spanned across many different age groups got in line to get the product.
As my brief conversation with the associate came to an end, I took some time to play with the iPad mini. And, well, it's an iPad, but a little awkwardly sized. Although the device was impressively thin, light and responsive, I didn't feel the urge to race out and buy one - especially for a base price of $329.
After putting it down, something occurred to me - all the iPad mini made me think about was if I'd rather own a 7" tablet or a 10" tablet, because to me, the 7.9" seemed to be a smidge too much if I was going to opt for a smaller model. If I was able to handle something slightly uncomfortable, wouldn't I just buy a regular-sized iPad?
Months ago I played around with Google's Nexus 7 and, after today, would say that the Nexus 7 is my preference. For whatever reason, it just felt better in most capacities. Needless to say, the sub-$300 price tag didn't hurt its cause either.
Another thing that occurred to me was how strange it was that I kept hearing Apple employees refer to the iPad mini as a "cute" product. I don't know about you, but it's been some time since I bought a high-end product because I found it to be cute.
Anyhow, I'm sure Apple will be a-okay with the holiday shopping season about to ramp up and consumers looking for the latest cool thing to give to the tech fan on their list. At this point, only time will tell if the mini can capture the imaginations of the masses and become yet another moneymaker.
As for me, I am still not convinced that a 7.9" tablet is the way to go.