Apple sells 3 million iPads over weekend

Posted Nov. 05, 2012, at 6:41 p.m.

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Apple Inc. sold 3 million of its new iPads in the first three days the tablet computers were available, driving optimism for a strong holiday quarter despite intensifying competition.

Sales of the 7.9-inch iPad mini and fourth-generation 9.7-inch version, both Wi-Fi only models, were double the first-weekend sales of the Wi-Fi iPad sold in March, Apple said on Monday.

Apple did not break out numbers for the crucial iPad mini, a smaller version of the original tablet designed to spearhead its foray into a segment now dominated by and Google Inc. It is also the company’s first major new device since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs last year.

Analysts estimate that about 2.3 million of the new iPads sold over the weekend were the mini-tablets, surpassing expectations of 1 million to 1.5 million.

Wall Street, which was disappointed with Apple’s latest quarterly earnings, had been looking to the iPad mini to boost demand during the crucial year-end holiday shopping season as competition reaches a fever pitch. Microsoft Corp. became the latest major entrant to the market last month with the Windows-driven Surface.

“We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis,” Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement. “We’re working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand.”

Apple shares were up 1.7 percent at $586.50 in morning trading on Nasdaq, still down more than 16 percent from a record high set in September.

Apple heads into the current quarter after refreshing almost all of its product lines, from Macintosh computers to tablets.