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Gene Munster of Piper Jaffary, is out with a new report today on Apple’s iPAD Mini.  Munster believes that Apple could sell 1-1.5 million iPad Minis this weekend, which compares with 3 million 3rd Gen iPads sold in its launch weekend in March. The estimate includes preordered devices.

Munster notes that the iPad Mini will launch in 34 countries compared to 10 for the 3rd Gen iPad, but the 3rd Gen iPad launch included LTE versions of the device, while the Mini launch will not. The reason he expects fewer iPad Minis compared to the 3rd Gen is because of the lack of the wireless option and newness of the smaller form factor for consumers, with smaller sized tablets accounting for about 20-25% of overall market units.

However, he  believes that over time that will change, and consumers will gradually realize the benefits of the smaller form factor iPad, which will drive adoption.

While Munster doesn’t believe the iPad Mini will see near term large sales,  ,  he believes that the iPad Mini will gain momentum and become a more important product for Apple as consumers realize the benefits in portability and ease of use (one hand) from a smaller device size.

Furthermore, the smaller tablet market has lacked the presence of a smaller iPad that brings the Apple ecosystem and brand to that market.

He estimates that about 20-25% of total tablets are of the approximately 7″ variety, but expects that percentage to be driven up significantly by the iPad Mini over the next few quarters.

Shaw Wu an analyst at Sterne, Agee, shares the same bullish views as Munster.

Wu believes that concerns over iPad mini’s $329 entry price point vs. expectations of $249 and $299 are overdone. The reason is that He believes its lower price point vs. the previous $399 will ultimately drive more units. Furthmore, iPad mini seems to be positioned to do better than expectations similar to what we have seen in the past with iPod mini and iPad nano, both products that were also ironically viewed as overpriced. He view similarities where a “mid-range” high quality product is priced reasonably, which was originally considered ‘over-priced.’

Furthermore, Wu believes that the iPad Mini will not ‘cannibalize’ the iPad for four main reasons.  There is enough differentiation between iPad and iPad mini. This includes: (1) its $499 vs. $329 price point; (2) higher-quality retina display for more discerning users; (3) iPad mini is much smaller and lighter; and (4) iPad is simply for users who want a more powerful tablet.