Anything Daring Fireball's John Gruber links to is going to get a lot of attention. But Gruber's fawning over this article makes no sense. The article is, at the very least, poorly thought out and, at the worst, outright stupid.
Dale says, "By soft releasing the iPad Mini Retina, Apple achieved three crucial things."
1) "Apple’s biggest fans got theirs first." It sounds like Dale "may be new here", so let me explain this to him. Soft launch or not, "Apple’s biggest fans" get theirs first regardless. It's WHY they are the biggest fans. They are the ones to line up hours, days, weeks in advance or to feverishly refresh web pages waiting to pre-order product.
2) "By going online the incredibly poor optics (The front of Apple lines, which attracts a lot of media, was full of people who were not fans but paid to be there) are mitigated." Again, Dale may not realize this but those poor "optics" (and just using that word makes him a NMD) are actually things other retailers would KILL for. Look at the effort Microsoft goes to trying to get lines at its store openings.
3) "The last thing Apple wants is 100’s of customers turning up everyday to be disappointed" You mean like for the original iPhone launch? Or the original iPad launch? Or the iPhone 5s launch? Or...
Point is, Dale writes as if he's just arrived on the Apple tech scene. All the things he says are "crucial" to the soft launch of the iPad mini have come long before. He's looking for an explanation in all the wrong places.