In what has become a bankable ritual of the digital era, Apple stores on Friday opened their gleaming glass doors to long lines of acolytes clamoring for the tech giant's latest gadget. New iPads flew off the shelves, and fans held their sleek toys triumphantly aloft as they exited stores to the applause of sales staff. And yet, some reports suggested that all was not right in the world of Apple: The lines were distinctly shorter than past years, some whispered, the rollout more subdued. Apple CEO Tim Cook says sales for the new iPad broke records, but is keeping mum on details. Was the iPad launch a bust?

The reception was noticeably cooler: The new iPad drew a "muted response" from the buying public, says Nathalie Auriol at Agence-France Presse. While fans were excited about the new iPad's upgrades, particularly its ultra-sharp retina display, we didn't see the "crush" that greeted the release of the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2. In those cases, customers camped outside Apple stores for days, and the launches were characterized by "chaotic scenes" of people fighting over rapidly dwindling supplies. Not this time.
"Apple fans snap up new iPad in muted launch"

Unbelievably, the new iPad didn't even sell out: The launch of a new Apple product is usually "quite a fiasco," says Zach Epstein at Boy Genius Report. During previous launches, we'd log calls to Apple stores in New York City and get "apologetic sales associates breaking the news that launch-day inventory had been completely depleted." This time? "We didn't find a single store in the New York area that reported a complete stock-out." Perhaps the new iPad simply isn't revolutionary enough to "warrant the turnout we have seen in years past."
"iPad launch day: Where are all the sell-outs?"

Hold on. Maybe Apple was just better prepared this time: The "relatively low-key physical response" to the new iPad doesn't necessarily portend a "crisis in the fanboy firmament," says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET. Many customers pre-ordered their new iPads online. And the brick-and-mortar stores might have simply stocked more iPads this time around so there would "be enough for everyone." I bet that Apple "will report rather healthy sales figures" in the coming days. Besides, "how many of Apple's competitors wouldn't have loved to enjoy the interest already generated" by the new iPad?
"So did the new iPad sell out or didn't it?"