Instead of having to wait the two-week delivery time Apple is currently quoting, those interested in buying the 7.9-inch tablet now have the chance to reserve one through the Online Apple Store each night starting at 10 p.m. The reservation system, aimed at customers looking to be one of the first iPad mini owners, has been used before with other major Apple launches.
The service is perhaps the best way to guarantee a unit as Apple Stores around the country are taking delivery of only a limited number of units each day as they trickle in from Chinese manufacturing plants.
It is unclear how many units are allotted to online reservations, and stock at each Apple Store undoubtedly fluctuates, however interested consumers can visit the Online Apple Store to check availability starting at 10 p.m. local time.
To use the system, customers need to go through the steps of placing an online order, but choose the "Pick up" option at checkout instead of "Ship." Inventory is updated nightly.
The reservation service is akin to Apple's pre-order system it employed in China, most recently for the iPad 3, where customers were able to reserve a unit within an allotted time period and subsequently given a specific time to pick up their device the next day.
With all preorder and launch day units sold out, one analyst believes Apple will have shipped 850,000 iPad mini units in its first week of availability.
Apple unveiled the mid-size iPad at a special event in October, with preorders for the device selling out within hours. The tablet officially hit stores on Friday in 34 countries as part of Apple's largest product rollout ever.