Exactly how well is the new iPad selling?

Exactly how well is the new iPad selling?
There was almost unprecedented hoopla leading up to the announcement of the new iPad. Yet as soon as they went on sale questions started to appear about the sales performance of Apple’s newest slate. Why didn’t they sell out everywhere opening weekend? Is Foxconn reducing production due to disappointing sales volume? Thankfully, numbers published by Chitika allow us to provide a more complete answer to this question.

According to Chitika’s numbers, the new iPad now accounts for over 10% of all iPad traffic in the U.S. The 5% mark was within the first 4 days (three million sold), and the new iPad has been making steady gains ever since. In general that’s what we’d expect - most tech products show a front-loaded burst of sales followed by a gradual descent to a sustainable daily sales floor. But are those numbers good?

To know that we'd have to assume that the new iPad's U.S. market share is fairly close to the market share is has in the rest of the world. That would imply that the 3 million new iPads sold the first weekend were 5% of iPads everywhere, and some simple math says in mid-March there would have been around 60 million iPads in the wild. That number matches up well with the 50 million reported a couple months earlier in January, since iPads continued to sell for two and a half months after that. Even if it's slightly high it would probably be less than 5%, which is good enough for our purposes.

Flash forward to today and new iPad market share has doubled. Of course that doesn’t mean a strict doubling of the initial three million, because the new iPads are also adding to the total number of iPads out there. A bit of just-slightly-more-complex math yields an estimated 3.6 million more iPads sold, bringing the total new iPad market share to roughly 6.6 million units sold out of 63.6 million total iPads on the market.

Breaking down the numbers a bit more shows that Apple is averaging a bit over 170,000 units a day for the last 21 days, and according to the Chitka numbers sales have been very consistent since the opening weekend. If we assume U.S. customers are replacing their iPads somewhat more rapidly than elsewhere, we're still looking at 160,000 units a day.

But are those good sales numbers???

Extrapolating those sales into the future, Apple is selling around 5 million units a month. Assuming sales remain fairly steady, Apple would just about perfectly hit the 48-50 million units mark that analysts were predicting in January. To put that into perspective, in 2012 the number of iPads sold ever sold would double, almost entirely due to the new iPad.

We are hard pressed to call these sales numbers “disappointing”. Certainly any Android or Windows 8 vendor would be thrilled with moving 5 million tablets a month. RIM would be over the moon.  Apple’s own internal predictions may well have been higher; street estimates of close to 50 million were considered “conservative” by some analysts, and Apple prides itself on conveying numbers it thinks it can beat.

So what is going on? The new iPad is widely regarded as the best tablet out there; even users of other operating systems cast an envious eye at its Retina Display. But most reviews have agreed that the case for iPad 2 users to upgrade is somewhat weaker, especially if you don’t need LTE. The new screen is fantastic, but $400+ for a new screen is pretty steep, no matter how nice it is. We may simply be running into a temporary ceiling for the rate at which people are entering the top tier of the post-PC era. Amazon and others supply low-priced tablets, after all, and larger economic trends aren’t really helping to fuel new purchases, even if things look somewhat better now than last year.

Regardless of whether the new iPad is meeting Apple’s own expectations, objective analysis makes it difficult to refer to current sales as anything but a success. Apple should sell 40-50 million of them in 2012, possibly more if either macroeconomics or a “killer app” helps speed up tablet adoption. Longer term Apple probably does have to worry about price pressure from lower-priced tablets, especially with Google’s Nexus Tablet expected this summer.

But in the meantime it’s clear that the new iPad is selling in droves.

sources: Apple, Chitika

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  • Display 9.7 inches 1536 x 2048 pixels
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