300,000 iPads sold on day of debut

AP Business Writer
Apple Inc. said Monday that it sold more than 300,000 iPads on
its opening day, meeting the expectations of some analysts while
underscoring the challenges the company still faces marketing the
much-anticipated device beyond early adopters.
The figures, which included pre-orders that were picked up or
delivered Saturday, were hardly exceptional despite weeks of hype
about the revolutionary nature of a new class of device that falls
somewhere between the phone and computer.
In a research note earlier Monday, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene
Munster had doubled his initial forecast of first-day sales to
600,000 to 700,000, saying that "lines were longer than expected
and supply was also better than expected." But the actual numbers
announced by Apple were closer to his original estimates.
Still, first-day U.S. sales of the iPad exceeded those of the
original iPhone in 2007, he said. He expects Apple to sell 1.3
million iPads in the current quarter compared with the 1.1 million
for the iPhone in its first full quarter.
Sales of the iPhone have since picked up, and Apple sold 8.7
million worldwide in its latest quarter. The latest model, the 3GS,
sold a million in just three days when it went on sale last summer,
initially in the U.S. and seven other countries. Saturday's iPad
launch was in the U.S. only.
Eager customers stood in long lines across the country Saturday
to be among the first owners of a device they were expecting to be
a game-changer, even if they weren't quite sure yet how.
Once the initial iPad excitement settles, Apple may have to work
harder to persuade a broader swath of people to buy one. Many
companies have tried to sell tablet computers before, but none has
caught on with mainstream consumers.
Apple essentially must convince people who already have smart
phones, laptops, e-book readers, set-top boxes and home broadband
connections that they need another device that serves many of the
same purposes.
The iPad now on sale, at prices starting at $499, connects to
the Internet wirelessly through Wi-Fi. Some people may be waiting
for a pricier version that can access the Internet over cellular
data connections. That version should be out later this month.
The iPad will also go on sale in other countries starting in a
few weeks, though some Europeans made a trip to New York
specifically to buy one Saturday.
Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu, who had estimated that Apple sold
250,000 to 300,000 over the weekend, said the device has the
potential to be another big hit in Apple's arsenal of products down
the line with lower prices and better software for the device.
"When the iPhone was first launched, it was also somewhat of a
disappointment. ... But as the iPhone got more refined, with more
apps, better software, not to mention better prices ... then you
started to see the volumes really take off," Wu said. "We think
the iPad is similar."
He said checks of the supplier channel shows that Apple notified
manufacturers to get ready for possibly 10 million units to be
shipped, up from 5 million previously.
Broadpoint Amtech analyst Brian Marshall said the iPad's weekend
sales met his expectations, especially with many stores closed for
Easter. He said the iPad's Saturday sales of more than 300,000
units is about 60 percent of his weekend forecast of 525,000 - a
decent showing for a product that has garnered mixed reviews.
"We're off to a fantastic start," Marshall said.
But he said the device won't be overshadowing the iPhone, whose
sales he expects to top $20 billion this year, eight times his
forecast of $2.5 billion for the iPad.
"It's really all about the iPhone, but the iPad will generate
fantastic sales this year," he said.
Apple, which is based in Cupertino, Calif., also said that iPad
owners downloaded more than a million applications and more than
250,000 electronic books on Saturday.
Shares of Apple were up $1.40, or 0.6 percent, to $237.37 in
midday trading Monday.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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