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Apple attracts sparse crowds to opening sales of its iPad mini

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By Reuters
Friday, Nov. 2, 2012, 5:54 p.m.

Apple Inc's iPad mini hit stores around the world on Friday, attracting sparser crowds than previous Apple introductions, 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 Sandy ravaged the city.

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.

On the West Coast, fewer than a hundred people thronged Apple's new outlet in Palo Alto, Calif., near the company's Cupertino headquarters, and staff appeared to outnumber customers.

The iPad mini marks Apple's assault on the smaller 7-inch-plus tablet segment, hoping to beat back major inroads by Google's Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire this year.

The iPad mini's price tag of $329 is higher than the list price of $199 for both the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7.

Shares of Apple, which hit an all-time high in September, slid as much as 2.7 percent on Friday to $580.14, their lowest level in more than three months.

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