iPad sales charge past three million mark

By Chris Lefkow

WASHINGTON - Apple iPad sales have hit the three million mark and are showing no signs of flagging.

The Cupertino, California-based gadget maker announced overnight that it sold its three millionth iPad on Monday, just 80 days after the touchscreen tablet computer first became available in US stores.

"People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives," Apple chief executive Steve Jobs said in a statement.

The iPad went on sale in the United States on April 3 and Apple sold one million of the devices in the first 28 days and two million in two months.

"We're working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month," Jobs said.

The iPad became available in Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland at the end of May and will hit stores in Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Ireland, Luxembourg, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand and Singapore in July, although an exact date is yet to be announced.

Apple also said software developers have created more than 11,000 applications for the iPad, which runs most of the more than 225,000 mini-programs developed for the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

With the latest model iPhone scheduled to go on sale this week, Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore said Apple is "beginning the strongest product cycle in the company's history."

"iPhone demand is off the charts and iPad uptake remains strong; both appear to be tracking ahead of our previous expectation," Whitmore said.

"We anticipate another 'Apple event' with long lines, heavy store traffic and stock outs," Whitmore said of the iPhone 4 launch on Thursday in Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States.

Apple said last week it had received 600,000 pre-orders for the iPhone 4, its largest number of pre-orders ever in a single day.

Whitmore said Deutsche Bank expected iPhone sales of 44 million units this year and 55 million units next year.

The Deutsche Bank analyst said iPad sales estimates for 2010 were being raised to 12 million units from five million units and to 17 million units next year from 7.5 million units.

Standard & Poor's equity research analyst Clyde Montevirgen was also bullish about Apple.

"Over the last few years, Apple has transformed from the hip iPod maker to a leading-edge technology giant with a hand in some of the fastest-growing technology hardware markets," he said.

"By competing in the smartphone, laptop, tablet, and retail markets, and outperforming formidable competitors along the way, Apple has effectively expanded its total available market size and renewed its long-term high-growth potential," he said.

The iPad allows users to watch video, listen to music, play games, surf the web or read electronic books.

Apple's latest iPad sales figures were released a day after online retail giant Amazon and US bookstore chain Barnes & Noble announced they were cutting the prices of their e-book readers.

Amazon dropped the price of its Kindle e-reader to US$189 from $259 while Barnes & Noble said it was lowering the price of its e-reader, the Nook, with 3G and Wi-Fi connectivity, to $199 from $259.

Barnes & Noble also said it was introducing a Wi-Fi only version of the Nook for $149.

The cheapest iPad, which features a colour e-reader compared with the black-and-white "e-ink" Kindle and Nook, costs $499.


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