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Summary:

Apple wasn’t kidding around when it said it was going to become a mobile device company first and foremost. According to at least one analyst estimate, the iPad is now outselling the Mac by a fair margin, having almost caught up to its cousin, the iPhone.

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Apple wasn’t kidding around when it said it was going to become a mobile device company first and foremost. According to at least one analyst estimate, the iPad is now outselling the Mac by a fair margin, having almost caught up to its lucrative cousin, the iPhone. RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Abramsky (via AllThingsD) thinks Apple is selling more than 200,000 iPads per week at this point.

Compare that to around 110,000 Macs per week, and about 246,000 iPhone 3GS handsets. For a device that originally looked like kind of an odd duck that would only appeal to a very niche market, that’s not too bad. Especially when it hasn’t actually launched in international markets as of yet (barring pre-sales to the first nine countries getting the device on May 28).

Sellouts in both Apple Stores and Best Buy locations in the U.S. continue to be a fairly regular occurrence, and at the time of RBC Capital Markets’ checks, which took place in mid May, roughly 25 percent of Apple Stores were sold out of 3G models of the iPad completely and only had Wi-Fi stock remaining. New units bought from the Apple website are at least a week out in terms of predicted shipping times. In other words, Apple is still selling the things as fast as it can make them.

Abramsky’s changed his 2010 global iPad sales estimate from five million to eith million in the wake of the device’s continued success at retail, and he’s not the only one who’s optimistic about the iPad’s selling power. Research firm IDC (via Bloomberg) predicts that the iPad’s success alone will account for a six-fold increase in the sales of tablet computers in general by 2014. If true, tablet sales would nab a fair chunk of global computer sales, which doesn’t bode well for the slowing netbook market.

It also doesn’t bode well for the Mac. Apple’s efforts will go where the money is, and all indications point to the fact that the money will be with the iPad and iPhone, not with MacBooks and iMacs. What changes will this prompt in Apple’s personal computer line-up? Well, in business silos that bring in less money inevitably face cuts and streamlining. Apple recently added more choices to its notebook lineup, but I predict we’ll see a reversal of that in the future. Look for fewer product configurations and simpler categories (one basic notebook, one pro, etc.) as Cupertino focuses on mobile.

I’m not too worried about this trend, because far out, I see a convergence of device categories. Mobile will be the default mode for consumer computing, and I suspect the iPad will look much more like that future than the MBP I’m typing this on now. Apple has always been good at the long-view, and this time around is no exception.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Is The Age of the Web Tablet Finally Upon Us?

  1. When the iPad isn’t slaved to a computer then I’ll be more concerned. As it is now, consumers still need a computer to make the iPad work.

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    1. umm, that’s what it was designed for. To complement your computer, not replace it.

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  2. @Brandon
    Yeah, got it.
    There’s speculation by tech pundits on message boards, blogs, newspapers and magazines that Apple at some point could no longer make Macs.
    So I was specifically responding to the writer’s last two paragraphs, and the no-more-Mac zeitgeist.

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  3. I’m actually not surprised at all that this is happening. But, about this being bad for the Mac, I don’t think so. We gotta remember, even though iPhones and iPads are selling more, they are not cannibalizing Mac sales, in fact, it’s quite the opposite, Mac sales are at an all time high, and one of the reasons for that is the boost it’s getting from users who like their iPhone and want to broaden their “Apple experience”.

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  4. When the iPad isn’t slaved to a computer then I’ll be more satisfied. Then it will have been proven that an iPad is more than enough computer for most people.

    The current out-of-box experience that requires connecting to another computer to get started is a negative in my view. I predict that soon we’ll see full cloud synchronization through Apple’s new NC data center, which makes recent speculation about free MobileMe all the more interesting. Just unpack the box, turn on the iPad, connect to the cloud and you’re fully operational.

    I think we’ll see traditional computers – desktops and traditional laptops – relegated to fixed / mobile production, with iPads and other mobile devices used more for communication and media consumption. In the living room, the iPad may act as a big remote control for video on the flat screen.

    These changes are coming faster than many analysts realize in my opinion.

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  5. Apple are having trouble keeping up with the demand at the moment.
    But as soon as all the sheep who want one have purchased it I reckon ipad sales will almost stall, or at most slow to a trickle

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  6. @Phil, I don’t know where the “sheep” comment is coming from, but I have a few questions for you.

    Do you think that today’s laptops will keep the same form factor – i.e. clamshell, attached physical keyboard, trackpad, no touch screen, 30-second on/off times, multiple I/O options? Should laptop apps continue to mirror their desktop counterparts, versus being optimized to better suit mobile computing needs?

    My interest in iPad v1.0 is where this will take us next. It really is a prototype for next-generation mobile computing that may soon include larger devices running full Win or Mac OS. Why shouldn’t every laptop become a multi-touch surface with a separate bluetooth keyboard that can be optionally carried or left at home?

    Tablet PCs missed the mark for several reasons in my opinion. Designs never solved the size / weight problem. The attached rotating keyboard mechanisms were poor design. Touch screens did not have the responsiveness of current designs. Effective onscreen keyboard options were never offered. Power on/off performance was poor. Battery life was poor. These are reasons why the desktop metaphor could only be taken so far, and the companies that truly embrace mobility are changing the game.

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  7. Apple is one corporation.
    Apple employees are many.

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  8. Hamranhansenhansen Monday, May 24, 2010

    It also doesn’t bode well for the Mac.

    No, it bodes very well for the Mac. You can’t make apps for iPad without a Mac. You can’t make movies for iPad without a Mac. The best place to make website for iPad is the Mac.

    Half of iPads are going to PC users. They are going to get tired of viruses and all the other chores that go along with Windows once they have an instant-on, very reliable iPad, and they will get a Mac next time out.

    The Mac is going back to being a production machine, like it was in the 80′s. Macs will spend more of their time running Final Cut Pro and less running a browser. It all works out.

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