By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
November 3, 2012

FORTUNE — Some queues for the iPad mini were shorter than expected. Others seemed unnaturally long. And when reports of stock outs began coming in, it wasn’t clear whether demand was too strong or supplies too short.

Apple (AAPL), it seems, can’t win the iPad mini expectations game. Take, for example, the sales estimates put forward by analysts for the first three days of sales:

  • Topeka Capital’s Brian White: 800,000 to 1 million in first weekend
  • KGI Research’s Ming-Chi Kuo: 952,000 manufactured before Friday’s launch
  • Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster: 1 million to 1.5 million sold in first three days
  • BTIG’s Walter Piecyk: Apple must sell 3 million in first weekend to demonstrate to Wall Street that there is adequate demand and that management can ramp up to meet it

Munster believes Apple will sell at least 5 million iPad minis this quarter, a target that will be easier to reach once the Wi-Fi + Cellular models become available later this month.

With any luck, the company will issue some reliable unit sales numbers Monday.

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