Can Sandy Wash Out iPad Mini Sales?

Apple (NAS: AAPL) has officially launched its new iPad mini around the world in 34 countries. As usual, the device has garnered lines for anxious buyers waiting to get their hands on the smaller tablet, but on average, the lines are shorter than for higher-profile launches like the iPhone 5 or full-sized iPad (although the slightly upgraded fourth-generation model is also launching today).

Despite the devastating affects of Hurricane Sandy on New York City, there were about 550 people in line at Apple's flagship store. Even though that's quite a turnout considering the circumstances, it's inevitable that Sandy will wash out some sales given the damage the storm has done.

As far as unit estimates go, Piper Jaffray's Gene Munster believes that Apple will likely sell between 1 million and 1.5 million iPad minis this weekend. That may sound low, especially relative to the 5 million iPhone 5 units and 3 million third-generation iPad units that were sold on their respective launch weekends.

Apple also chose not to announce pre-order figures for the iPad mini, even though it sold out of its initial stock within a matter of days. It also didn't announce third-generation iPad pre-orders, but offered up 2 million iPhone 5 pre-orders.

Some consumers may have reservations about the smaller form factor, taking a wait-and-see approach. Some might have been disappointed with the device and went and bought an (NAS: AMZN) Kindle Fire, which Amazon thinks is the case; it said unit sales of its tablet jumped 200% over the prior week the day after Apple announced the iPad mini. Amazon's device is $130 cheaper, so it's believable that more budget-conscious buyers would go with the Kindle Fire HD.

Meanwhile, other buyers could be holding out for the 4G LTE-equipped models, which are set to ship later this month. Investors are going to have to wait until Monday to see if Apple's willing to share any figures.

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Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple and Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple and Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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