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iPad Mini Goes On Sale Friday

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It might not be a launch on scale with the iPhone 5 or the new iPad, but that might just be appropriate for Apple's iPad Mini.

The tablet, which was announced at a press event last week, goes on sale Friday starting at 8:00 a.m ET.  It starts at $329 and has a smaller 7.9-inch display (the regular iPad has a 9.7-inch screen).  It runs the same iOS 6 software and has the full capabilities of the iPad.

On Friday, only the WiFi version goes on sale; the 3G / 4G versions don't go on sale for a few weeks.

A new version of the regular iPad with Retina Display, which was first released in March, goes on sale Friday, too.  The $499 tablet has a faster processor and now has the new Lightning dock connector.

But while most Apple launches kick off with massive lines, fewer people seem to be lining up for the new tablet.  The Wall Street Journal reports that lines were shorter than the iPhone launch in New Zealand.

Obviously, the lines in New York were shorter in the wake of superstorm Sandy.  At Apple's iconic Cube store on 5th Avenue, only one person stood in line late Thursday night.  Apple's stores in Soho and on 14th Street will be closed due to power outages in the city.

However, according to Twitter, there were substantial lines of enthusiastic fans in China.  There were also lines building in Ohio and Irvine, Calif., overnight.

Despite the reports of shorter lines, Apple sold out of the initial stock of smaller iPads online, which went on sale last Friday.  Currently, the white and black versions aren't shipping in the U.S. for two weeks.

Analysts also say the lack of the lines might not mean much.

"Lines are just one metric of excitement, and I believe the closer we get to the holiday season, sales will pick up," Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, said.  "The iPad Mini isn't nearly as differentiated as the iPhone or the iPad 4."

Analysts at Piper Jaffray expect Apple to sell one million to 1.5 million iPad Minis in the first weekend, rather than the three million iPads it sold in March in the first weekend.  And that's not only because of the other iPad option, but also the competition.

Moorhead did stress that the competition has steepened in this category for Apple as there are strong, smaller, $199 tablet options like the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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