It's early, but things are looking up for Apple since Saturday's release of the much-anticipated iPad.

The iPad’s initial sales may have reached 700,000 units, Piper Jaffray & Co.’s Gene Munster said in an interview yesterday. The Minneapolis-based analyst had predicted sales of 200,000 to 300,000, while Sanford C. Bernstein & Co.’s Toni Sacconaghi had projected 300,000 to 400,000. JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Mark Moskowitz estimated 825,000 in the quarter to June.

The device went on sale April 3, drawing crowds to stores across the U.S. and rivaling the frenzy seen when the iPhone was introduced in 2007. Lines at five stores surveyed by Piper Jaffray were longer than expected, yet Apple had iPads available late in the opening day, signaling the company was able to produce enough devices to fulfill initial demand, Munster said.

“Sales held relatively steady during the day,” said Munster, who bought a $499, 16-gigabyte model for himself. “I have high expectations.”

The iPad is Apple’s bid to turn tablet computers into popular consumer devices, something rivals such as Microsoft Corp. have failed to do. The product builds on the success of Apple’s iPhone and iPod, staking out the middle ground between smartphones and laptop computers. Apple is betting the design is enticing enough that consumers are willing to pay a premium over low-cost notebooks.


SOURCE: BusinessWeek

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