Sales of the iPad got off to an incredible start, with Apple selling over 3 million units in the first 80 days after its initial release. Since then, iPad sales have not only increased, but have seemingly accelerated, leaving Apple struggling to meet unexpected and surging demand for its tablet device.
But in the midst of booming iPad sales, one interesting data point is that the iPad may very well be the fastest selling consumer electronic product of all time. To put things in perspective, Apple sold about 3.27 million iPads during the third quarter of 2010, and estimates for the current quarter range from 3.8 million units on the low end to upwards of 6 million units. By way of comparison, DVD players, during the first quarter of their availability, only moved around 350,000 units. Further putting things into perspective, DVDs were out on the market for 5 years before its sales were comparable to where iPad sales are just a few months out.
Of course, this isn't an Apples to Apples comparison (pardon the pun). DVD players hit the market while VHS tapes were still in heavy rotation, and it arguably took a good 4 years for DVDs to really infiltrate the mainstream in an appreciable way. Still, the relative swiftness with which the iPad has become a success story merely underscores how unique a product it is. Indeed, even Apple executives have expressed disbelief at just how quickly the iPad has stormed out of the game. Even some of Apple's previous hits, such as the iPod, took some time before gaining mainstream acceptance. The iPhone, though, was an immediate hit, but even then, Apple sold about 1 million units of the original iPhone during the first quarter it was available. Clearly, there's something alluring about the iPad that has consumers snatching them up at a ferocious pace.
And to think, Wall Street analysts initially expected Apple to sell, at the most, 5 million iPads during the first year of sales. With Apple's earnings report scheduled for October 18th, Apple may very well have eclipsed that figure in the past quarter alone