Apple claims record iPad sales in Mini debut, stock rises
CUPERTINO, Nov 05, 2012 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Apple (AAPL) announced Monday that it sold 3 million iPads in the past three days, after it premiered its new iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPads in retail stores, helping sooth investors concerned about excitement from fans for new Apple tablets.
Apple did not break down the numbers to say how many of the iPads sold from Friday through Sunday were iPad Minis, fourth-generation iPads or the iPad 2, which it continues to sell as a cheaper version of the full-sized iPad. The Cupertino company said it was a record sales weekend, but needed to talk around the issue to do so -- it also claimed 3 million sales in the opening weekend of the third-generation iPad, so this record was for sales of Wi-Fi-only iPad models.
"We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad Minis. We're working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand," CEO Tim Cook said in Monday's news release.
The iPad Mini is Apple's answer to popular 7-inch tablets like Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's (GOOG) Nexus 7. But Apple priced its smaller tablet entry much higher than those competitors -- the device starts at $329, while other 7-inch tablets can cost as little as $199.
Apple will introduce iPad Minis with cellular connectivity as well as Wi-Fi later this month, with the delay of those models cited as a reason for low sales projections last week. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster -- an Apple bull who typically offers the highest projections for Apple sales -- forecast opening-weekend sales of about 1 million to 1.5 million for the Mini, without projecting total sales for all iPads. Monday morning, Munster issued a note saying he believed that Apple had sold 2 million to 2.5 million iPad Minis during the weekend.
"The basis for our estimate is that in our line surveys, roughly nine out of every ten customers was waiting to purchase an iPad Mini rather than a full-sized iPad," Munster wrote, pointing out that 2,5 million iPads would be 83 percent of the total sales Apple claimed.
Munster's team conducted surveys in lines outside Apple Stores on Friday morning, when the iPads were released, but crowds at the events this time were noticeably smaller than previous iPad and iPhone releases. News organizations reported less enthusiasm at the events worldwide, and iPad fans at the Palo Alto Apple Store were shocked to find no line when they arrived in the wee hours Friday morning.
Brad Peterson of Los Altos was first in line at 2 a.m., but said, "I go to these things all the time, and (2 a.m.) usually gets me somewhere in the middle of the line." BTIG research analyst Walter Piecyk said Friday that Apple needed to hit the 3 million mark to satisfy investors, though he was looking for sales of solely the Mini.
"We believe Apple's first weekend sales of the iPad Mini needs, at a minimum, to top the 3 million first weekend sales of the iPad 3 in order to demonstrate that the management team can execute on ramping supply of new products and to provide some evidence that there is adequate demand for a smaller iPad at these price points," he wrote in a note Friday morning.
The news helped push Apple's stock price -- slammed of late by investors -- higher Monday morning; after a half-hour of trading, shares were selling for $584.08, 1.3 percent higher than Friday's closing price.
Mercury News staff writer Heather Somerville contributed to this report. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/mercbizbreak.
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