May 31, 2010 8:56 pm

Apple sells 2m iPads in two months

A strong international debut for Apple ’s iPad had lifted sales of the tablet computer to 2m since its US launch two months ago, the company said, a rate exceeding the most recent public figures for its flagship Mac laptop and desktop computers.

Monday’s disclosure followed three full days of sales in the UK, Germany, Japan and six other nations. It showed that the Silicon Valley company has taken advantage of the anticipation and long queues in many countries in spite of supply limitations in the US.

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Analysts who projected sales of 1.5m units for the quarter ending in June might revise their projections upwards on Tuesday, providing a possible further boost to Apple’s stock market value.

The sales debut has been stronger than that for the original iPhone, which took more than two months to reach 1m. But analysts said it had fallen short of the iPhone 3G, which came out in 2008 and sold about 3m units in the first month.

Apple last week eclipsed Microsoft in market capitalisation, becoming the most valuable technology group in the world.

In the quarter that ended in March, Apple sold 2.94m Macs, or just below 1m a month.

But Macs are intended to perform essential household and business tasks, while the iPad is a small luxury device aimed at consuming digital media.

The figures suggest the company has succeeded in creating a category of device between traditional personal computers and smartphones.

Apple sells more than 6m iPhones and iPods each month.

Apple delayed the iPad launch overseas by weeks because of short supply, then shifted most of its inventory to those new markets, leaving many shelves bare in the US after the initial rush.

Apple had announced 1m sales in the US alone in the 28 days after it became available there on April 3 for a starting price of $499. It took another 31 days to sell the second million units, implying a fall-off in the US not quite compensated for by the international shipments.

Apple did not break out the number of sales by country or by model. In the US, the less expensive Wifi-only versions have proved more popular, but anecdotal evidence over the weekend suggested stronger international performance for the type of iPad that remains connected to the internet with data-transmission plans from telecoms carriers.

Analysts said last week that the iPad, like the iPhone before it, should do as well in overseas markets as it does domestically and perhaps better, since more telecom carriers support the new device than for the iPhone at its debut.

Bullish Apple supporters on Wall Street had predicted the company was on target, with internal estimates that it could sell 10m iPads a year. With 1m changing hands every month, Apple could surpass that target if more new markets show similar strong demand and the drop-off from early orders is modest.Nine more countries will get the iPad in July.

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