Forget the speculation about how the iPad performed out of the gate. Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) just released its own numbers: 300,000-plus sold as of midnight Saturday, including pre-order deliveries and Apple retail sales. That represents a minimum of $150 million in first-day sales, using the lowest-end model, and considerably more given the mix of sales. Apple also said iPad users downloaded more than 1 million apps and more than 250,000 e-books through its stores. There no real way to come up with a legit minimum value for that since Apple doesn’t break that down between paid and unpaid. The iBooks app comes with one free book, A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh, which could account for the bulk of those downloads as people try it out.
The money quote from Apple CEO Steve Jobs: “It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world — it’s going to be a game changer. IPad users, on average, downloaded more than three apps and close to one book within hours of unpacking their new iPad.”
For those keeping score, that’s half of some estimates for day one. Apple uber-analyst Gene Muster pegged the sales at 600,000-700,000 after polling some stores. Needham & Co.’s Charles Wolf was closer with a guesstimate of more than 300,000 although he told the New York Times he thought it could hit 500,000. If this had been a normal retail weekend, those higher-end estimates could have been closer to reality but most malls were closed for Easter. Also, hard to believe the second day would exceed the first for this device and the 3G delivery/sales delay skews it all.
Most useless comparison: Of course, we have to compare this to the iPhone’s first day sales and it wins hands down. Apple sold roughly 270,000 iPhones on the first weekend in 2007. But it’s as useful as comparing it to the number of Apple IIc sales. If Apple had sold fewer iPads than iPhones after three years of brand building and growth, that would matter a lot more. The more interesting number for me will be one Apple isn’t likely to release: the number of returns by people who can’t cope with wi-fi as their only access option and either switch to the more expensive 3G version or opt out for now.