Daniel Tello, a blogger and analyst, leveraged data supplied by volunteers to arrive at an estimation of 120,000 iPads sold via Apple's Website March 12, the inaugural day that Apple opened the device to preorders. That number included 50,000 iPads sold within a single two-hour period. The iPad is slated to go on sale April 3.
Following that initial spike, however, Tello estimates that sales of the tablet PC have, perhaps predictably, evolved "into a relatively straight line slightly sloping up." Once preorders cross the 100- to 150-hour mark, "a new, more subtle" curve will form "in which the slope will very slowly get shallower as the days and weeks pass."
Tello posted visualizations of his work on the Deagol's AAPL Model blog; Deagol, Tello's blogging pseudonym, is the name of the hobbit in J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Fellowship of the Ring" who takes possession of the titular gold band for 30 seconds before being strangled by Gollum. In conjunction with other members of Investor Village's AAPL Sanity forum, including Victor Castroll of Valcent Financial Group, Tello extrapolated from a 99-order sample over 19.5 hours to reach an estimate of 119,987 iPads preordered.
The group's math is more fully discussed on the actual AAPL Sanity message board, viewable here (subscription required).
Of those preorders, 69 percent of customers apparently gravitated toward the WiFi version of the device, while the remaining 31 percent opted for the WiFi and 3G-enabled version. Some 33 percent preferred the 16GB version of the device, 32 percent selected the 32GB, and 33 percent went for the 64GB.
Apple has imposed an iPad pre-order limit of two per customer. Those ordering the WiFi and 3G-enabled version of the device will apparently need to wait until "late April" to actually take delivery, according to Apple's Website. The contract-free AT&T 3G data plan sells for 250MB per month at $14.99, or unlimited for $29.99.
The 16GB version of the iPad costs $499 with WiFi, and $629 with WiFi and 3G. The 32GB version costs $599 with WiFi, and $729 with WiFi and 3G. The 64GB version costs $699 with WiFi, and $829 with WiFi and 3G.
The marketing push for the iPad has begun in earnest, with a 30-second television commercial airing during the March 7 telecast of the Academy Awards that demonstrated the device's abilities as an e-reader, scheduler, Web-surfer and e-mail platform. That advertisement also displayed details of the iPad's user interface, including an iPhone-like "Slide to Unlock" bar, an iBookstore for e-books, and an iWork productivity suite optimized for touch.
Apple claims that some 150,000 apps will be available for the iPad upon launch, and has been encouraging developers to build those apps via the iPhone SDK 3.2 beta. Apple's App Store will feature 300,000 apps by the end of 2010, according to research firm IDC, which gives the company a sizable advantage in the mobile-applications category but has nonetheless compelled it to begin policing the App Store more thoroughly for fraudulent or potentially controversial behavior.