Apple sold 3 million iPads by June 21, some 80 days after it launched the popular tablet device in the United States.
"People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives," Apple CEO Steve Jobs wrote in a June 22 statement. "We're working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month."
The word "magical" seems to be Apple's fallback adjective in describing the iPad, which was first unveiled in late January and went on sale in the United States on April 3. Whether the term truly applies, it seems that customers have gravitated toward the touch-screen device's model for consuming multimedia content and performing light tasks. Thanks at least in part to the iPad's success, analysts from research firm IDC predict that worldwide media tablet shipments will see a compound annual growth rate of 57.4 percent, for a total of 46 million units in 2014.
"These are early days for media tablets, an altogether new device category that takes its place between smartphones and PCs," IDC analyst Susan Kevorkian wrote in a May 20 statement. "IDC expects consumer demand for media tablets to be strongly driven by the number and variety of compatible third-party apps for content and devices."
Encouraged by Apple's success-or anxious to not be left behind in a burgeoning product category-manufacturers ranging from Hewlett-Packard to Dell are preparing their own competitors in the space, with many of them evaluating Google Android as a potential lightweight operating system.
During June's D8 Conference, Jobs suggested that a rough prototype of the iPad had served as the inspiration for Apple's iPhone, which debuted in 2007.
"I had this idea about having a glass display, a multitouch display," Jobs told The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg during a June 1 onstage session. "I asked our people about it. And six months later they came back with this amazing display. And I gave it to one of our really brilliant UI guys. He then got ... scrolling working and some other things, and I thought -My God, we can build a phone with this.'"
While that process eventually led to the iPhone, according to Jobs, the iPad itself was apparently shelved until Apple gained substantial mind- and market-share in the smartphone arena. The proliferation of Apple's mobile devices among consumers and businesses has been mirrored by an exponential rise in the number of third-party applications available through the company's App Store.
Despite the popularity of both the iPad and the iPhone, though, Apple could face a potential antitrust investigation over the language of its iPhone developer agreement. Quoting unnamed sources, a May 3 article in the New York Post suggested that both the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice were debating whether to open such an investigation.
In theory, that would exclude tools such as Adobe Flash CS5, in turn potentially forcing developers to choose between building an application for Apple or for another smartphone ecosystem-something that federal investigators could potentially view as unfair competition.