updated 01:35 pm EDT, Tue October 30, 2012
Mini Smart Covers already being delivered
Apple is beginning to ship early online orders of the iPad mini, notes MacRumors. Although the company's official tracking page is showing orders as "Preparing for Shipment," FedEx data indicates that many tablets are already en route. People who ordered Smart Covers for their Minis are in fact starting to receive the accessories.
For major product launches Apple typically lets accessories arrive early, but instructs couriers to hold on to the main packages until their launch date, in this case November 2nd. Some people have seen hardware ship prematurely, but this is normally blamed on mistakes by individual courier employees or local branches.
Yesterday Apple sold out of online launch stock for the Mini. New orders will only be delivered in mid-November, around the same time the first 3G/4G-equipped Minis reach the public.