Weird Apple iPad numbers: Are they good news or just bad spin?

At first glance, the Apple press release loudly proclaiming that the company sold 3 Million iPads last weekend seemed designed to quiet critics who were noting the unusually small lines for the new iPad Mini last week.

3 million iPads! Take that!

Until, of course, you read it carefully. And then you realize that it’s, well, odd. First, and foremost, because it doesn’t actually break out the numbers for the iPad Mini. That 3 million is all iPads sold.

So how did the iPad Mini do? Says Apple:

“Customers around the world love the new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis. We’re working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand.”


Some, like M.G. Siegler, embraced the Apple story line as proof that all is right in Apple-land:

“So much for the short lines — Apple sold three million iPads in three days. To put that in perspective, they sold five million iPhone 5s in three days a few weeks ago — a device that ranges from cheaper tomuch cheaper depending on the subsidy and version of the iPad. Oh, and it’s the iPhone — Apple’s best-selling device.”

Many others, however, weren’t so sure. At ExtremeTech, Sebastian Anthony says:

“You have to wonder why Apple didn’t release specific figures for both the iPad Mini and iPad 4. Presumably, one of the tablets had a weaker launch than expected — or, if Apple really massaged the figures to include the sales of other new and refurbed iPads, then maybe both new models put in a lackluster performance.”

Investors were clearly impressed, driving Apple’s stock up $7.82 or 1.36% to $584.62. But it’s worth nothing the stock is way, way, way off it’s late-September high of more than $700 per share. Analysts appeared to be extremely bullish on the news, believing the numbers were very positive and that demand would only increase as Apple released the cellular version of the mini and iPad 4 in the coming weeks.

So what’s not to like? It should be noted that once again, like with the iPhone 5, Apple has pointed to its ability to make enough gadgets to meet demand as a reason sales might not have been as high as they might have been.

Issues with the supply chain seem to me to be the big weakness at Apple that very few people are discussing. It’s surprising to me, considering this was Cook’s role before he stepped into the CEO job. While people have been excited about the increased number of new gadgets Apple is launching, and the speed, this seems to have overburdened the company’s supply chain and manufacturing capacity.

One of the few analysts focusing on this issue is Walter Piecyk at BTIG, who today writes:

“To be clear, 3 million is an impressive number by itself but we believe it’s important for Apple to be able to expand its ability to ramp supply in order to capitalize on demand and maintain strong earnings growth.  In a compressed product cycle demand falls off more quickly in between product cycles and at some point in the not too distant future, a potential iPad mini customer will start turning their attention to speculation of a Retina display iPad mini and inevitable price cuts on existing models. “


“Finally, we cannot ignore the reality that the iPad mini took 3 days to sell out of its pre-orders while the iPad 3 sold more units in just 17 hours.  This is surprising given the attractive price points of the iPad mini and the fact that is was launched in 3x the number of markets.  It’s hard to ignore this as a data point on the popularity of Apple’s new product launches but clearly it can be overcome as we approach the holiday selling season.”

The question now: Is Apple in fact trying to do too much, too fast? And in the process, will that limit the sales of some newer products, no matter how fantastic they are?




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  • The Mini-iPad isn’t the only new tablet out this week — the Novo 7 Flame 32GB also just launched -which offers a pretty impressive 7 Inch tablet priced at $189 at a site called TabletSprint — The Novo 7 Flame Android tablet has a 1280×800 High Resolution screen, 2nd Gen Dual Core CPU, 32GB Memory, MicroSD portable storage, an HDMI connection to your TV with full 1080p (HD) that’s great for movie downloads, a 5 megapixel Rear Camera with AF & LED Flash and a 2 MP webcam; Plus great connection – Bluetooth, WiFi, Ethernet, and options for 3G. The tablet is made by Ainol Electronics, which received a “Best Tablet of the Year” award at CNET Consumer Electronics Show 2012 – Two other models are also being released and both are 10-inch tablets with high resolution screens; one offers most features as above, with a Dual Core CPU, GPS and a 1280×800 display for $220; and a similar model that features a powerful Quad Core with a 1920×1200 Liquid Crystal display (like Apple’s Retina screen) for around $270. All offer pretty nice specs and price and one of the first online sites to offer this new product line is TabletSprint — and this site also offers an innovative new service with FREE 3G access in the U.S., with 500MB of free data every month for internet and VoIP Voice Calling —

  • Russell

    Bad spin and misleading.

    They added the 7 days of presales to the weekend numbers. It’s really 3million in 9 days.