Apple's Playing This One Close to the Chest


Always one to brag, Apple (NAS: AAPL) has come out and announced figures for the launch weekend of the iPad Mini and fourth-generation iPad. The iPad maker said it sold 3 million iPads in three days, but that includes both new models. Investors looking for an iPad-Mini-specific figure will be left wanting more, since the company is keeping that figure close to the chest.

Ahead of the launch, analyst estimates ranged anywhere from 850,000 to 1.5 million iPad Mini units, a fairly wide target range for Apple to hit. Even if Apple sold 1 million iPad minis, that would be less than prior product launches and could fail to impress investors, which is probably why the company is grouping all iPad sales together.

In addition, this launch only includes Wi-Fi models, with cellular-equipped versions expected later this month. Apple said it sold 1.5 million Wi-Fi only models when it launched the third-generation iPad in March of this year, so this past weekend doubled that figure when looking at comparable models. That's also interesting because that means half of the 3 million total units sold during the March launch were cellular devices, which carry higher margins than Wi-Fi-only models.

The figures help assuage fears that the iPad Mini is priced too high relative to's (NAS: AMZN) Kindle Fire HD and Google's (NAS: GOOG) Nexus 7. While we don't know exactly how many iPad Minis Apple sold, Tim Cook said the device is "practically sold out," which aligns with anecdotal evidence that many popular Apple stores were sold out.

Judging by IDC's third-quarter tablet estimates, Amazon shipped 2.5 million tablets in the third quarter, and Asus saw a sequential increase of about 1.5 million units that was attributed to the Nexus 7.

This rivalry isn't sitting still either, as Amazon and Google are both now moving upmarket to challenge Apple in the full-sized market with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9" and Nexus 10, respectively.

Even without an iPad mini-specific metric, investors can be pretty sure that the new device is off to a strong start in challenging its 7-inch incumbent rivals.

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