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The new iPad: A roundup of post-release news

First-time buyers driving demand, AT&T sees record activations

By Brad Reed, Network World
March 19, 2012 04:42 PM ET
Apple new iPad

Network World - To help you filter through all of the iPad-related headlines floating around the tech press today, we've created a compilation that will keep you up-to-date on the latest developments:

AT&T reports record sales figures and activations. AT&T didn't provide specific numbers on its iPad sales, but did say the new iPad set single-day records for sales and activations and that it saw "robust demand for the new iPad." Apple hasn't released any numbers on new iPad sales either but has said it's been "thrilled" with the new iPad's opening weekend. Apple has sold more than 55 million iPads since first launching the tablet in 2010.

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Many early adopters could be first-time customers, UBS survey suggests. Investment firm UBS conducted a survey of 165 people who were waiting in line to buy a new iPad Friday and found that 46% were first-time iPad customers. Thirty-eight percent of customers standing in line owned a first-generation iPad, while just 16% owned an iPad 2. While the UBS survey has too small of a sample size to be scientific, it does at least suggest that early new iPad adopters aren't just the hardcore fans that propelled the first two versions of the tablet. UBS also found that 54% of new iPad buyers surveyed were content to buy a Wi-Fi-only version of the tablet, while 38% planned to buy the LTE-capable version that runs on the AT&T network. Just 8% of buyers surveyed said they planned to buy the LTE-capable tablet that runs on Verizon's network.

The new iPad won't have as high profit margins as the iPad 2. According to the gadget teardown specialists at IHS iSuppli, the 16GB LTE version of the new iPad costs Apple $358.30 to produce after factoring in both materials and manufacturing costs. The 16GB 3G iPad 2, meanwhile, cost the company $271 to make, including materials and manufacturing costs. Both devices were priced at $629 at their launch, meaning the new iPad will not have as high profit margins for Apple as the previous model. The 16GB 3G iPad 2 saw its price get knocked down to $529 after the release of the new iPad. IHS teardown services principal analyst Andrew Rassweiler says that the iPad's 2048x1536-pixel Retina display "represents the centerpiece of the new iPad" and is "a significant step up in display capabilities and expense, at four times the resolution and 53% more cost." It seems that Apple is willing to take a hit on its per-unit profits in order to deliver a display that is far and away the sharpest in the industry.

But it's not all praise for the new iPad. iFixit, another group of teardown experts, praised the new iPad's display screen last week but also trashed the new device as poorly designed and too easy to break.

"We're not impressed one bit with the easily-breakable, difficult-to-fix iPad," the company wrote late last week. "If Apple is going to be at the head of the pack, we must ask them to lead responsibly. And in electronics, leading responsibly means that your devices must be sustainably made and designed to last."

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