Sales of Apples new iPad could be off to a strong start, according to one analyst.
At the flagship 5th Avenue store in NYC, we observed 750 people in-line at 8AM, the time when the 3rd gen iPads went on sale, Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in a co-authored March 16 research note. This compares to 1,190 last year at the time of the iPad 2 sale.
While that might not seem like a strong start at all, he suggested the reduced number of people in line was in fact better than we expected given the combination of nine days of pre-orders for the new tablet, along with the 8 A.M. release time (when a lot of people would presumably need to head to work, instead of wait in a line outside an Apple Store) and the presence of a Grand Central Terminal store nearby.
At the Grand Central Terminal store, eWEEK found a line of several dozen iPad purchasers that, while long, nonetheless moved at a fairly quick pace. At 8:30 a.m., the line was smaller and less energetic than the one for that stores grand opening (so to speak) in December 2011. According to news reports, Apple Stores around the country also had lines in front of them ahead of the opening, and shipment times from Apples online store have steadily crept up to two to three weeksan indicator of high demand.
Munster also believes that the new iPad will end up selling more than 1 million units during its first day of release. We expect Apple to sell more than [1 million] iPads on 3/16, the day the new iPad hits retail stores, he wrote in a March 12 research note. While the sell-through number is impossible to predict given uncertain iPad supply levels, sales of over [1 million] iPads on launch day would be a slight positive relative to the Street consensus at 10.1 [million] iPads in the Mar-12 quarter.
The new iPad (Apple hasnt given it an official-sounding name along the lines of iPad HD or iPad 3) features a high-resolution Retina Display, an improved camera and processor, and comparable battery life to its predecessors.
If that wasnt enough to pressure the competition, the new iPads prices top out at $699 for the WiFi-only, 64GB model and $829 for the 64GB model with WiFi and 4G. Those in the United States will have the option of purchasing the new iPad with 4G LTE connectivity on either Verizon Wireless or AT&T.
Actual sales numbers will almost certainly have to wait until Apple reveals them; but in the interim, it doesnt appear as if the new iPad was a highly unexpected flop.