Apple Customers Bought More Expensive iPads In Q4

Apple sold about 25 million iPads during the holiday season, with iPad Air and iPad Mini with Retina Display making up the bulk of sales.
Apple Mac Pro: 9 Ways It Wows
Apple Mac Pro: 9 Ways It Wows
(Click image for larger view.)

Consumers snapped up iPads during the holiday shopping season, and Apple's newest tablets led the way. The iPad Air and the iPad Mini with Retina Display accounted for the bulk of iPads sold as the iPad 2 finally began to show its age.

Data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP) suggests that the two newer iPads were responsible for 57% of all iPads sold during the holiday quarter. The iPad Air, which went on sale November 1, accounted for 41% of iPad sales. It was by far the best-selling model. The iPad Mini with Retina Display, which went on sale November 15, accounted for 16% of iPad sales. That's quite an accomplishment, given its late start and limited availability. The fourth-generation iPad, which was available for about five weeks at the beginning of the quarter, still managed to account for 13% of iPad sales, while the original iPad Mini managed to capture a significant 25% of iPad sales.

The 2011-era iPad 2, which Apple sells for $399, registered at just 5% of all iPad sales. It is heavier and bulkier than the iPad Air, doesn't have Retina Display, and includes an outdated processor. With the two iPad Minis coming in at $299 and $399 for the standard model and the Retina model, respectively, the iPad 2's best days are long behind it.

[Is a larger iPhone finally in the works? See Apple Phablet Could Disrupt Market.]

"Apple managed to shift significant sales to its higher-priced models," said CIRP partner and co-founder Mike Levin. "For the past year, the legacy iPad 2 grabbed from one-quarter to one-third of iPad sales. Along with the trend toward sale of models with larger storage capacities, Apple should see higher iPad average selling prices, with iPad 2 at only 5% of total sales and iPad Mini sales split between the original model and the new iPad Mini with Retina Display."

CIRP generated these estimates by surveying 500 Apple customers who made Apple purchases during the fourth quarter in the US. CIRP didn't assign unit values to its percentages, nor did it poll buyers outside the US.

This leaves us with the question, just how many iPads did Apple sell?

Fortune polled some 45 different Apple analysts, including seasoned pros and amateurs, and has what it believes is a reasonable estimate. The range varies between 21 million and 28 million. When averaged together, the analysts think Apple sold about 25 million iPads during the fourth quarter. That represents growth of 10% year-over-year, which would set a record for Apple.

Apple is also expected to set a record with sales of the iPhone. Analysts predict quarterly sales of about 55 million iPhones, which will represent a 16% increase year-over-year.

Apple will report earnings after the markets close on January 27.

Eric Zeman is a freelance writer for InformationWeek specializing in mobile technologies.

Can the trendy tech strategy of DevOps really bring peace between developers and IT operations -- and deliver faster, more reliable app creation and delivery? Also in the DevOps Challenge issue of InformationWeek: Execs charting digital business strategies can't afford to take Internet connectivity for granted.