Apple has just sent out its sales figures for the iPad's debut on Saturday, and the company is claiming *rips envelope open* 300,000 units were sold on Saturday alone. Not bad: The pre-sale feeding frenzy made one analyst revise his initial estimate of 250,000 to 300,000 tablets in the first weekend, to between 600,000 and 700,000 (Yes, Gene Munster, that means you). But how does that compare to sales of the iPhone, Cupertino's first mass-market device it sent out?
Back in June 2007, Apple claimed that 270,000 first-gen iPhones were sold in the first 30 hours or so, although it took another three months for the device to hit the magic 1 million mark. Blame that on the price--$599--and the fact that it was only available on AT&T at first, although when hackers finally managed to jailbreak the phone, it suddenly became a lot more covetable (the iPad's already been jailbroken). A year later, when Apple released the iPhone 3GS, it took just three days to reach seven figures. Total sales of the device are now somewhere around 45 million worldwide.
So, will the iPad do as well? Interestingly enough, Apple put its sales estimate for 2010 at around 10 million units, although a couple of analysts halved this number, saying that Jobs and Co. were over-stating their product's usefulness. What you have to remember about Apple's mass market products is that they do their own PR, and the firm has no need to resort to sending its employees out to boost sales. Fanbois with a bad case of Priapism (iApism? Or iPriapism?) are surplus to requirements. As with the iPhone, the sales look after themselves once the device is out in the open.
Unlike the iPhone, which basically did a better job than any of the other smartphones on the market, the iPad has, as yet, no direct rivals (Dell and Toshiba tablets and e-readers aside). It is a radical new way of computing--just look how easy it is to "get" it. Even the technophobic olds, those little old ladies who refer to their computers as the "tellybox" will get it. And they'll get obsessed. Trust me: if one person turns up to their book club with an iPad, then, the next month, expect the other members to be following suit. And that's going to send Apple sales in the opposite direction to that which Isaac Newton discovered, 340 years ago.