Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicts that Apple will sell up to 1.5 million iPad minis during its launch weekend, which began at 8am this morning.

That number is reasonably low in comparison to the third-generation's three million units sold when it launched in March, and the iPhone 5 sold five million within the first weekend of going on sale in September.

However, Munster's reasoning for the lower sales figure of the iPad mini is that the 4G LTE models of the 7.9in tablet are set to arrive in stores later this month.

Munster expects that iPad mini sales will grow over time and become more popular as customers "gradually realize the benefits of the smaller form factors, which will drive adoption."

The analyst highlights the ability to hold the iPad mini in just one hand, and the added portability of the smaller device. He suggests that Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7 didn't help boost the smaller tablet market enormously because they lack the ecosystem and brand that Apple has.

Let's hope that Munster's right about the gradually progressing adoption, because there was just one person queuing outside the Regent Street Apple Store last night, and no one outside the Covent Garden Store.

Macworld UK managed to pick up an iPad mini this morning from the Apple Store. You can check out our unboxing here, and watch this space for our in-depth review.

See also:

With iPad mini launch, what to do with your 'old' iPad? iPad mini teardown reveals Samsung display, difficult reparability Apple to sell 102m iPads, 194m iPhone sin 2013, analyst