Basically it's just a lot of fiddling. It needs to be as easy as plugging a device into an electrical outlet. Like plugging a charger into a laptop. Headphones into whatever takes headphones. All these devices have plugs that go in upside down, for the exact reason that they are easy to plug in that way. Why does a USB charger have to be different?
I have issues with plugging in micro USB cords as well, so I'm not trying to disagree with your overall sentiment, but you missed the mark with mentioning electrical plugs... at least in the US. Some cords can be plugged in in either orientation, but most cannot. Most are polarized plugs and can be put in in only one orientation, and others are grounded as well which really forces a single orientation. This isn't a real issue however for several reasons: the plugs are large enough that it's easy to tell what orientation you need, if you get it wrong it's obvious (unlike with micro USB where you don't know if you're just struggling to plug it in), and you rarely need to plug/unplug most devices once they are plugged in. So, yeah, despite your bad example, I fully agree with you.
You asked about the iPad mini. The speculation for weeks has been that Apple would have a separate event to announce that device at a later date (http://daringfireball.net/2012/08/sharing_the_stage keeping in mind that Gruber was only speculating, I link to him only because he was the first to publish this "rumor", but since then several others chimed in with more than speculation). No one was really expecting an iPad mini announcement here, but most pundits expect an announcement in October. And yes, all of these announcements (from every company) are being carefully timed in order to impact the announcements from other companies. It's making for some interesting times this year in the lead-up to the holiday buying season.
I do think Apple faltered, and have left themselves open here, but someone still has to take advantage of that. The Lumia 920 seems to be getting more buzz after the iPhone 5 announcement than it did after their own announcement (for that matter, it's getting more buzz than the iPhone 5 as well), but even still, Nokia has pretty well botched things here. They need to recover quickly to take advantage of Apple's slip. Or one of the Android folks could be the one to take advantage here. In the end, though Apple has such a big lead right now that all anyone can hope for is to close the gap. The iPhone 5 is still going to sell extremely well, and Apple is almost certain to retain the lead... at least for now.