iPad Sales Outpace the Mac

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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?

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