"The new iPad is a blockbuster with three million sold--the strongest iPad launch yet," said Philip Schiller, Apple's senior VP of worldwide marketing. "Customers are loving the incredible new features of iPad, including the stunning Retina display, and we can't wait to get it into the hands of even more customers around the world this Friday."
Three million new iPads in four days is no doubt impressive. Apple said that the new iPad had a record weekend, and now we have the numbers to back that claim up. AT&T also said that it saw a record number of new iPad activations on its network.
[ Should you upgrade or join the tablet generation? See New iPad: Hands-On First Impressions. ]
Let's try to put "three million" into a bit of perspective.
During the last quarter of 2011, Apple sold 15.4 million iPads. That's 15.4 million over a 90-day period, including the vital holiday shopping season. Apple sold 11.12 million iPads during the previous quarter, and more than 40 million for the 2011 calendar year. There's always been a healthy appetite for iPads, and it appears as though the new iPad's Retina display and LTE 4G drew in first-time tablet buyers.
New data released recently by Strategy Analytics shows that the iPad owns 57.6% of the global tablet market. That's down markedly from the previous year's 69%. Where did Apple's lead go? Straight to Android. Android's share of the global smartphone market swelled from 29% is 2010 to 39.1% in 2011. If Android tablets make similar gains in 2012, Apple and Google will be neck-and-neck in the tablet space before we know it.
But no single tablet maker is doing nearly as well as Apple.
Research In Motion, for example, has sold somewhere between 1 million and 1.25 million PlayBook tablets. Many of them were sold for less than the original $499 price. In fact, the PlayBook's price has been closer to $199 since September. Motorola has sold about 1 million Xoom tablets, based on its 2011 full-year financial statement. Add RIM and Motorola together, and the two combined might have moved 2.25 to 2.5 million tablets over the course of an entire year.
Samsung is believed to have sold more than one million of its Galaxy Tab tablets. Samsung admitted, however, that it is flailing with its spate of slates. "Honestly, we're not doing very well in the tablet market," Hankil Yoon, a Samsung executive, told a group of reporters last month.
Other tablet makers, including HTC, LG, Sony, Asus, and others, haven't been very forthcoming in their tablet sales data. However, Andy Rubin, Google's Android chief, said that there are about 12 million Android tablets in circulation. That's 12 million Android tablets in a year's time (the Xoom first went on sale in February 2011) compared to the iPad's 40 million.
The new iPad is set to go on sale in an additional 24 countries March 23. Based on the numbers for its opening weekend, the expansion will likely see another surge in iPad sales. It is conceivable that Apple will move between 7 and 10 million new iPads in the March 16-26 period.
What do we know with certainty? The iPad market--not the tablet market--is huge and growing.
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