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Wall Street analysts weigh in on the iPad mini

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Although Apple's stock fell sharply after the event yesterday -- it closed at around US$613 after opening the day at about $631 a share -- most Wall Street analysts are saying that the iPad mini will be a hit with consumers.

The $329 starting price of the iPad mini was seen by Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank as a "modest disappointment," although he said that the features of the mini more than make up for the higher-than-expected price point. Many analysts, including Whitmore, believed Apple would offer a base model with only 8 GB of storage and were surprised by the starting capacity of 16 GB.

Whitmore also feels that the build quality of the aluminum unibody iPad mini will also justify the $130 price premium over Android competitors such as the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon Kindle Fire HD. The competing devices are made of plastic and glass. Deutsche Bank is maintaining its $850 price target for AAPL shares.

Also chiming in was Charlie Wolf of Needham & Company, who thinks the new iPad mini will expand the overall market, and make life difficult for lower-priced competitors. To quote Wolf's comments about the competition, "none compare with this device, in our opinion, which is a full-featured iPad except for its size. All 275,000 iPad applications can run on it without modification." Needham's price target of $750 for AAPL remains the same.

Sterne Agee's Shaw Wu had predicted a price point for the iPad mini between $299 and $349, so the $329 price tag fit his expectations. Wu was quoted as saying, "We continue to believe iPad mini is the competition's worst nightmare and likely to drive incremental volume."

AppleInsider has a full rundown of analyst reactions to the littlest iPad. One parting comment from their post notes that "Maynard Um of Wells Fargo Securities believes that Apple arguably has its strongest product lineup in the company's history."

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