Apple says it sold 300,000 iPads on Day One

Monday, April 5, 2010

Here's the big question on the Monday after any big Apple launch: How many iThings were sold? This time around it was the iPad, and the official sales figures for launch day — about 300,000 — were impressive, although not nearly as stellar as some amped-up analysts had expected.
In a press release Monday morning, Apple crowed that its figure of 300,000 iPads sold as of midnight Saturday included pre-orders, sales at Apple stores, and shipments to "channel partners" like Best Buy. Apple also said that iPad users downloaded more than a million apps Saturday, along with a quarter-million volumes from the new iBookstore.

Impressive numbers, no doubt, especially when you consider that it took Apple about 2½ months to sell a million first-generation iPhones back in summer 2007. But Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, for one, had predicted a whopping 600,000 to 700,000 total for Saturday — having on Sunday upped his initial estimate based on head counts of iPad lines from coast to coast. (As it happens, his first estimate was much closer to reality — 200,000 to 300,000.) Oops.

Despite the big crowds at many Apple and Best Buy locations Saturday, a healthy inventory of iPads appears to be available. The Wall Street Journal noted Monday that "few stock outages were reported."

That's in stark contrast with previous iPhone launches, particularly the iPhone 3G in the summer of 2008. Back then, the lines for the iPhone 3G stretched on and on for weeks (in part because of the headaches involved in activating the phones on AT&T's cellular network), with Apple stores selling out left and right. Meanwhile, as the Associated Press notes, the iPhone 3G's follow-up, the iPhone 3GS, managed to sell more than a million units in its first weekend last year. (Of course, that takes into account worldwide sales; the iPad won't go on sale in Europe until later this year.)

But the iPhone 3G and 3GS are second- and third-generation products. As with the iPad, sales for the original iPhone weren't exactly blistering, in part because of all the criticism about the first iPhone's lack of 3G and GPS support. The iPhone 3G, of course, added both those features and became a runaway hit, and it's quite probable that the inevitable second-generation iPad will add features missing in the current version, such as a built-in camera and multitasking support.

Those sentiments are echoed by Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, who told the AP that sales of the original iPhone, while "somewhat of a disappointment" at first, began to "really take off" once later iPhones "got more refined, with more apps, better software, not to mention better prices. … We think the iPad is similar."

In any case, as the AP notes, sales for the iPad seem to be at least on par with that of the first iPhone, with Piper Jaffray's Munster (yes, the same big iPad over estimator) claiming that the iPad's first-day sales "exceeded those of the original iPhone in 2007." Also enthusiastic, according to the AP: Broadpoint Amtech analyst Brian Marshall, who called the iPad's showing over the weekend "fantastic," if not quite up to his estimate of a stellar $20 billion in annual sales for the current iPhone.

So, who exactly were all those people who waited in line for an iPad on launch day? Big surprise: It appears many of them were MacHeads. A survey in New York and Minneapolis (which was issued, as reported by Fortune's Apple 2.0 blogger Philip Elmer-DeWitt, by Piper Jaffray's Munster) found that about three-quarters of them were Mac users, and two-thirds owned an iPhone. Also interesting: Only 4 percent planned to replace their desktops and/or laptops with the iPad. Seventy-four percent planned to use the iPad for Web surfing; just 34 percent said they'd use it for e-mail (perhaps leery of the iPad's on-screen keypad).

The big question is whether iPad sales will hold up in the ensuing days, weeks, and months. Shortly after the iPad was announced, Wall Street predicted Apple might sell about a million iPads in 12 months; as the hype began to grow, though, so did the predictions, with estimates now (according to the Journal) ranging from 3 million to 5 million in a year. Apple is off to a solid start, but whether iPad sales will remain at lofty levels remains to be seen.

As for me, yes, I've got my own iPad right here, and I'm still tinkering with it. Keep your eyes peeled for a review once I've given it a thorough test drive.

What do you think: Is the iPad a hit? A flop? Somewhere in between?

Ben Patterson is a technology writer for Yahoo! News.

Source: Yahoo News

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