Analysts at Bernstein Research (via CNBC) have bestowed an interesting honor upon Apple’s groundbreaking tablet device: fastest selling electronic device. Adoption rates for the iPad are unparalleled when it comes to non-phone devices. Consider that the DVD player, the next fastest seller, sold only 350,000 units in its first year, while the iPad sold more than 3 million in its first 80 days.
Bernstein’s guess is predicated on a sales rate of around 4.5 million units sold per quarter, which isn’t at all unreasonable given that consumer interest hasn’t shown any signs of significantly flagging since then. Even the original iPhone only sold 1 million units in its first quarter. If the iPad continues to sell at its current rate, it’ll become the fourth biggest consumer electronics category, in terms of sales, by next year.
That’ll mean that the iPad, on its own, will sell more than all gaming consoles combined, and the entire cell phone market. Only televisions, smartphones and notebook computers will continue to exceed it. It’s hard to emphasize what a tremendous accomplishment that would be for Apple.
Of course, the iPad had a lot of advantages over other newly introduced, electronic devices. First, it had a built-in software platform, replete with applications ready to go out of the box, thanks to its use of iOS and Apple’s efforts to have developers prepare iPad-specific apps in time for launch. Second, demand was clearly present, as evidenced by Apple’s long, drawn out teaser campaign of carefully orchestrated leaks and PR strategizing. The campaign also no doubt helped heighten demand, whipping Apple fans into a frenzy of anticipation.
While much has been made of Apple’s rise to a position of prominence comparable to that of its longtime rival, Microsoft, the iPad and its success puts the company in an entirely different sphere of influence. For all it accomplished, Microsoft never created a brand new category of electronic device that itself ranked among the top-selling general categories. That degree of thought leadership will ensure Apple shapes the industry for years to come, despite any battles it may lose along the way.
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