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Was the iPad Launch a Success?

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Even though a single iPad hasn’t actually been shipped, that won’t stop the questions over the success of initial orders from being asked. Considering how Apple (s aapl) has positioned the iPad in the product lineup, on par with the Mac, iPod, and iPhone, Steve Jobs better have a press-release answer ready.

On Friday, Philip Elmer-DeWitt at Apple 2.0 started following people following the numbers, though whether those numbers are real or imaginary is yet to be determined. The data thus far derived has come from InvestorVillage, an Internet forum for “self-directed investors.”

By using orders numbers from an admittedly small number of purchasers, and accounting for purchases of other products at the Apple Store, the initial estimate was 51,000 in the first two hours, 74,000 after four and a half hours, and 91,000 in six hours. According to Apple 2.0, by the end of Friday the estimated number of iPad pre-orders was approximately 120,000. That’s the good news, assuming it’s true.

Apple 2.0 also passed along metrics for 110 iPads that are what you’d expect, Wi-Fi over 3G by two to one, the cheapest iPad at $499 being very popular. Somewhat surprisingly, the most expensive model, 64GB/3G at $829, was also popular but, hey, these are self-directed investors spending their hard-earned dividends that we’re talking about.

Of course, there’s another group of investors waiting for news on iPad orders. Investors in AAPL saw their fortunes rise on Friday with the stock price reaching a new high at $227, the company briefly overtaking Wal-Mart in valuation at $206 billion. Whether AAPL goes higher on Monday will likely come down to how many iPad orders there were over the weekend, but how many equals success?

Looking back at iPhone launches, a million iPads ordered would definitely be a success, probably more than all the Slate PCs with Windows sold since 2002. Don’t expect that to happen. Both the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS were immediately available in multiple countries. While the iPad will be available in other countries in late April, the first weekend of the month will be U.S. only, so perhaps the original iPhone would be a better comparison. Certainly, if the iPad does outsell the original iPhone, that will be the spin, but what if it doesn’t?

Everyone who wanted to order an iPad could have ordered one Friday. There were no lines at the online Apple Store. Even assuming the number crunchers at InvestorVillage got it right on Friday, it seems unlikely to me anything like 120,000 orders will be placed on successive days. For the sake of argument, let’s assume the number ordered is halved on successive days, 210,000 total over three days. 210,000 iPads doesn’t look very good compared to the iPhone launch, does it? The only thing worse would be if Apple doesn’t release any numbers.

In an interview with the New York Times last year, Jobs remarked on Amazon’s (s amzn) silence over Kindle sales, saying, “usually, if they sell a lot of something, you want to tell everybody.” That’s exactly why we’ve never heard about Apple TV sales, and it’s what will be the real metric for whether iPad orders were a success over the weekend. If there is silence from Cupertino, expect investors to react with wailing and selling of AAPL. More importantly for consumers, there could be an immediate drop in the price for the iPad, similar to what happened with the original iPhone shortly after launch.

I think that’s the kind of failure we can all appreciate.

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45 Responses to “Was the iPad Launch a Success?”

  1. Vic Healey

    Whoops, I now think the multitasking dashboard video for the iPad is a hoax. Clever but still a hoax.

    Examine it carefully and you will see what I mean.

  2. Vic Healey

    Here are several tips.


    I just saw a multitasking dashboard app that adds all kinds of widgets to the iPad like, Weather, Stocks, Clock, and Calculator apps.

    The video link to the widget dashboard for
    the iPad in action.


    If you have the balls you can make money off of the hysteria around the iPad release. Be at a Best Buy long before they open and get a ticket about one half hour before they open to purchase one of the 15 iPads that came in. Buy it without all that BB Geek Squad crap they plan to hit you with. Make a show of walking out the door with one of the coveted iPads. Someone will offer to buy it from you. Tell them you need to think about it as you really wanted to be the first to have one. Ask them, “How much are they offering?” Use your best judgment if the gain is worth it, but you could make a handsome profit from their desperation. If there are not enough anxious people there go to a nearby Apple store and show off your prize. Again allow someone who is desperate to buy it off you at that time.

    The point is if you have the cash, you can not loose in the hysteria of a seller’s market, but you stand to make a quick profit reducing the net cost of your 3G iPad.

    FUD – fear, uncertainty, doubt

    BTW some one tried spreading FUD about loosing iPad data. Store it in the cloud straight from the iPad if that worries you.

  3. Transferring data is important so that you can make most of your iPhone, but the thing which is even more important is backing up of that data. I am saying this because iPhone is in today’s trend and most of the peoples use it, if they loose data from it through any means the user is in great trouble. ipod to itunes So, as “prevention is better than cure” don’t forget to backup your iPhone data on time and regularly.

  4. james braselton

    hi there your graph showed the original iphone has about the same sell units as the ipad and dont forget the apples ipad preorders are still being cuculated until april 3 soo why apple has only been taking preorders for on march 12 of 2010 thats amazing preorder sells soo ipad could increase preorders and become a big success over night

  5. The iPhone broke much more new ground than the iPad and is more likely to be carried around constantly so I’d be surprised if iPad numbers were as good. Even moreso than the iPhone, the iPad is one of those “have to see it to believe it” devices that will really take off in sales once people have them in Apple Stores and in their hands.

    We really don’t know how many Apple TVs are sold? I can’t believe that I’ve never noticed that in their quarterly reports. Oh wait, I always forget about Apple TVs. Never mind. :P

    • Apple will lower the price at some point. That has nothing to do with success or failure. Look at Apple TV. The illustrious Charles Jade points out that Apple TV is indeed a failure. But there haven’t been any unusual price drops – just one, in fact.
      The fact is Apple surprised everyone by initially pricing the iPad low. They did this so that they would not have to drop the price like they did with the original iPhone.

    • Credit Suisse analyst Bill Shope reported that in an a meeting with Apple executives it was remarked that the company would stay “nimble” regarding iPad pricing. I’d suggest that could be the entire reason behind the “virtual” launch this weekend, rather than simply having a traditional a launch next month. If pre-orders are relatively weak, Apple can drop the price before a single credit card is charged, saving the company the embarrassment of another iPhone pricing debacle and retroactive price drop.

    • Vic Healey

      Note quote
      Paul on March 15th, 2010 at 6:51 am

      I think the price point is about right, but there will be plenty who say that netbooks are still cheaper.

      Off course they may say that. But do Netbooks include Apple’s multitouch GUI? Do Netbooks have a multitouch Office Suite for only $30?

      Look carefully at the demo video about these apps that have been ported to the iPad. Can you see they may be easier to work with than WORD, EXCEL, POWERPOINT by viewing the demos? For some alone the above may be enough of a compelling reason to use iPads.

      How much will it cost to design these features for a Netbook? What will be the final price when sold?

  6. iphonerulez

    This pre-order is not a launch and probably will produce less buyers than the actual launch when consumers can walk in to an Apple retail store, play with the iPad and purchase one before leaving. I wouldn’t trust any of the numbers that are being used by bloggers estimating how many pre-orders there are. There’s too much room for error, speculation and exaggeration.

    Since these pre-orders are not being charged, in theory, people could eventually cancel their pre-order if they change their mind. I’m not interested in pre-order numbers. I want to see sales numbers six months from the iPad going on sale. I doubt WS will react to pre-order numbers by causing investors to buy more stock. I’m sure WS wants to see actual sales figures.

    Still, no matter how many iPads are sold this year, even if it’s in the millions of units, the haters will say the iPad is a failure because it didn’t sell in the tens of millions of units.

  7. I think this entire article is speculation. And even if these numbers are correct, you’re comparing a pre-order online from the Apple website to a full scale retail and online launch from AT&T and Apple.

    News networks, analysts, and stock holders won’t take the pre-order numbers with the same amount of gravitas you have. And I would be shocked if Apple announced pre-order numbers for this weekend as *this was not a product launch weekend.* When the iPad launches, Apple will have a press release with numbers for launch weekend and total pre-order numbers. That’s it.


  8. This kind of speculation and comparison, while entertaining, is meaningless. What were the pre-orders for iPod version 1, or the iPhone, or any of the unavailable products? You also have to remember that when the iPhone 3G and 3GS were released, people knew what an iPhone was and that they wanted the better one. There is no such basis for the iPad, which is going in to a market with typically lackluster sales and so needs to build demand.

    Pre-orders are for Apple Geeks (like me).

    Regarding the GPS. I do not think we will see a WiFi GPS model for some time because the GPS is part of the 3G chipset. This is why we have not seen a GPS iPod Touch. What I do think we will see soon though is a 3G iPod Touch with GPS because Apple now has the “Pay as you Go” model in place and can leverage it with the iPod Touch.

  9. This is why I can’t stand Charles Jade. There’s just too much wrong with this “please click me too” garbage.

    “Thats the kind of failure we can all appreciate.”

    reminding us that the web has no editor.

  10. debunker

    Laughable article – pre-orders are not a launch.

    And in the comments section the author says Apple has to share the blame for the hype – what hype? A single commercial + their webpage + an introduction 2 months ago??

  11. Vic Healey

    Launch day is when they hit the stores or arrive on your doorstep. Now that is an interesting point. Who wants to stand in line (along line if its an Apple product) to buy anything? I love the fact you can pre-order it and have it as soon as it ships to anyone. Look ma – no lines!

    I have moved to almost 100% online shopping and would have it no other way.

    That brings me to launch day at an Apple store. This looks like a zoo in the making. People who pre-ordered for local pickup? Why? It ships for FREE!
    People who want to hold one before they buy, will there be any stock for them?
    People who are there for other Apple products or problems, will they be waited on?

    Most interaction with the Apple store is by appointment only here in Atlanta. I like that. But appointments preclude just showing up which is a shock for the first time visitor. The Apple stores are just too crowded IMHO on a normal day.

    What will happen on iPad launch day – melt down?

  12. two cents…There are too many variables between orig. iPhone and the iPad. I think we will see an increase in sales on April 3rd. Many people like to wait till they can walk in and pay and have one in their hand that minute. That is one of the huge variables in all of this (aside from the fact there are NOT any firm numbers yet) not everyone who will but is going to pre-order. Maybe people need to hold off on the comparisons and so called educated guesses till the numbers are in. In fact numbers shouldn’t be compared until they hit actual stores.

  13. Jindo & Ryan could’t have make the point better. No one in the real world have seen an actual iPad let alone play with it. Except for media and tech junkies most people din’t even know the iPad pre-orders started. I mean I told a coworker i had pre-order one and he said “I though the were coming out next month” When i told him he can pre-order one she did. So if the numbers are even half of what is been rumored I think is pretty good and it will only get better.

  14. Ted carsten

    No matter the numbers, we will not see a price drop. It is priced to perfection between the lower end macs and above the iPod touch and iPhones. There really is very little room to move without bumping into the other lines.

    You sound like someone shorting the stock and throwing “price drop”‘out there to freeze buyers.

    Given the price and the type of device it is, and the fact you can’t even touch one yet, I put success at anything over 50,000 units paid for in the first weekend.

    • <>

      That’s what it sounds to me too – the disingenuous mention of Apple TV sales without saying Apple always consider Apple TV a hobby, and then the quantum leap to the statement: “If there is silence from Cupertino, expect investors to react with wailing and selling of AAPL.” Yep, nothing but a pathetic set-up by a tool to influence share price.

  15. Calling this a ‘launch weekend’ is disingenuous.

    This is just pre orders and for U.S alone and the delivery is weeks away. No store sales at all.

    Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the UK won’t even get pre orders until later. No date for big iPhone buying countries like South Korea or Hong Kong (China).

    “Everyone who wanted to order an iPad could have ordered one Friday” comment is silly.

    Pre orders are completely different from in store sales. This is a new product and many people would like to see and handle it first. There hasn’t been a single hands on review from anybody, not from Pogue, Mossberg, Wired etc only comments from people handling the device for a few at Steve Jobs presentation.

    Without reviews, without hands on with the device, 100,000 plus pre orders in one day for the U.S alone for a new product is huge.

    The Nexus One the so called Google ‘super phone’ which pundits laud as a hit only sold 20,000 or so in launch week in spite of many hands on reviews (which as I mentioned the iPad currently has none), the Droid after 100 $ million ad campaign sold only 250,000 in launch week with big in store promotions.

    • I’ll like to clarify my statement “There hasn’t been a single hands on review from anybody, not from Pogue, Mossberg”

      Although Pogue and Mossberg have commented on their first impressions of the iPad at the Steve Jobs presentation both have not released their formal reviews. Mossberg “I have only spent a short time hands-on with the iPad–too short to fully run it through its paces and formally review it yet.”

    • The thing is it doesn’t matter whether this weekend is the actual launch weekend because perception will become reality. News outlets will report on the iPad “launch.” Wall Street will react to the number of pre-orders, or more importantly the lack of an announcement. Sure, it’s not fair, but it’s an unintended consequence of hype, hype that Apple is more than a little responsible for.

    • That’s bull. When Call of Duty starts taking in pre-orders, you don’t hear the press talking about a “successful launch”, you hear them talking about “amazing pre-order numbers”. They’ll mention “numbers” and “orders” a lot, but I doubt they’ll use “launch” in the context you’re trying to convey. Pre-orders are part of the pre-launch process, not the launch.

      If news outlets comments on the launch at all, they may say “these numbers indicate the iPad will have a(n) [strong/weak/average] launch in April”.

    • Charles, stick to what you know. Spouting blogger boilerplate cliches about media (“perception will become reality”) makes you look dumb.

      Preorders ≠ product-in-hand.

    • Disingenuous indeed. No substance or insight to this article whatsoever. Hard to believe people get paid to write this kind of stuff. Even harder to believe I wasted my time reading and commenting on it.

      The bait worked and now I’m wiser for it.

  16. The thing is, neither the original iPhone nor the 3g had pre-orders, so those numbers. Pre-ordering and buying a product in store are two very, very different things. Only the 3gs had pre-orders, and I’m pretty sure those numbers above reflect not only the pre-orders, but the actual in store launch sales as well. Not to mention that the 3gs wasn’t a new product, but an update of one that had two years of exposure to consumers.

    Also, the iPad hasn’t launched yet, it’s only up for pre-order, so it sounds kind of silly to ask a question like “was the launch a success?”

    • Vic Healey

      Your point about the timing is well taken. People tend to back off on purchases as they get closer to April 14 and tax deadline in the USA. Sales pick up again as the refund checks start coming in.

      That said I ordered an iPad for late April today and I expect that if some horrid problem with the Apple iPad is discovered by the earliest adapters I can cancel the Apple order. If not I will not have to wait through any supply crush to be resolved as more and more try to purchase an iPad for business and school use.

  17. I was all set to pre-order a WiFi model until Apple revealed that only the 3G model will have a GPS chip. That made me reconsider, and now I’m leaning toward waiting until those are available. I’ll still probably visit a store on April 3rd to play around with one.