3 Million Reasons Investors Should Love the New iPad

Following up the 4-million-unit iPhone 4S launch weekend six months ago, Apple (NAS: AAPL) has announced that it sold 3 million units of the new iPad over its launch weekend.

In some ways, that figure is more impressive to me, considering that it's an unsubsidized device. The iPhone price points range from $199 to $399 (after signing away your soul on contract for two years to a wireless carrier), but the new iPad ranges from $499 to $829, including the 4G LTE options.

Despite those heftier upfront costs, Apple was able to garner almost as many buyers for the new iPad as it did for the heavily subsidized iPhone. CEO Tim Cook did call it a "record weekend" during the dividend and stock-repurchase conference call, and Cupertino followed up just hours later with the actual juicy figures. AT&T (NYS: T) echoed this sentiment with an announcement of its own: It set a new single-day record for iPad sales and activations.

Last quarter's iPad average selling price, or ASP, was about $593, which would imply that this was an almost $1.8 billion weekend for Cupertino in new iPad sales alone. The Verge reports that Apple's flagship Fifth Avenue store in New York sold over 13,000 units in the first twelve hours.


Apple Store, Fifth Avenue in New York. Source: Apple.com.

That translates into an average of almost 1,100 iPads per hour, or 18 per minute. Based on last quarter's ASP, that would be almost $10,700 in revenue per minute at this location.

While unit sales are accelerating, it's worth mentioning that Apple's gross margin on the new model is expected to shrink, largely due to the pricier Retina Display. IHS iSuppli's preliminary tally of materials puts the entry-level model's component costs at roughly $316, with 40% of that sum attributed to the display and touchscreen alone.

That implies a roughly 37% gross margin on that model, lower than the roughly 50% margin that most iPad 2 models carried at its launch.

In comparison, the first iPad took 28 days to sell 1 million units, and the iPad 2 reportedly sold about 1 million during its first weekend.

At three times that rate, the latest and greatest iPad is off to a strong start.

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At the time thisarticle was published Fool contributorEvan Niuowns shares of Apple and AT&T, but he holds no other position in any company mentioned.Click hereto see his holdings and a short bio. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Apple and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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