Apple has announced that the third-generation iPad sold 3 million units in its first weekend, though that includes pre-orders made in the previous week (see “Apple Announces Third-Generation iPad,” 7 March 2012). Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, said that it was the strongest iPad launch ever. (The first weekend sales for the iPhone 4S topped 4 million, well up from the 1.7 million for the iPhone 4 and 1 million for the iPhone 3GS.)
In comparison, the first-generation iPad took 28 days to sell 1 million units, and 80 days to hit that 3 million mark. Apple didn’t release explicit sales velocity figures for the second-generation iPad 2, but in the first full quarter following the iPad 2’s release, Apple sold 9.2 million iPads, implying that the iPad 2 may have hit the 3 million mark in roughly 30 days.
These are the kinds of results that support Apple’s contention that the recently announced quarterly dividend is not an indication of slowing growth (see “Apple to Pay Quarterly Dividends and Repurchase Stock,” 19 March 2012). And they mesh with our informal sales expectations, based on the slow and flaky response from the online Apple Store on the day the third-generation iPad was announced — Apple knows full well what kind of traffic such an announcement can generate and has significant experience in scaling Web services, and still couldn’t keep the online Apple Store working properly under the overwhelming demand.