Apple announced on Monday that it has sold more than a million iPad devices over the internet and in its retail outlets, following the Friday release of the 3G version of the device, which can connect to the internet via cellular data networks in addition to Wi-Fi.
Naysayers who jokingly derided the device as a large iPhone with no phone function have been proven wrong about people not wanting exactly that — a testament to the powerful allure of these devices, which sit in a new category of computing somewhere between the smartphone and the netbook.
“One million iPads in 28 days — that’s less than half of the 74 days it took to achieve this milestone with iPhone,” said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. “Demand continues to exceed supply,” he claimed, “and we’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers.”
This 28-day figure doesn’t seem quite as impressive if you correlate the 3G iPad to the iPhone, and the Wi-Fi-only iPad to the Wi-Fi-only iPod Touch, because the iPhone and iPod Touch reached the combined 1 million mark about as fast as the iPads did. In addition, Apple said it shipped 500,000 units of the Wi-Fi-only iPad within the first week, so sales have slowed since then, relatively speaking, even with Friday’s introduction of the 3G model.
Regardless, this announcement marks a big vote of confidence by consumers. Nearly one out of every 300 Americans already owns one of these devices.
That isn’t just good news for Apple, but also for myriad companies hoping to capitalize on the iPad’s potential for e-books, interactive music, magazines, (non-Flash) video, games and so on. Its fast arrival at this milestone is an early sign that iPad adoption will reach levels where designing custom apps for the platform — and gambling on whether Apple will approve or reject them — makes sense on a business, as well as an aesthetic level.
The iPad might just be a giant iPhone, but size matters when it comes to many potential applications. For instance, who wants to read War and Peace on an iPhone?
So far, Apple says, iPad users have downloaded more than 12 million apps from its App Store and more than 1.5 million e-books from the iBookstore, via Wi-Fi or wireless data connection. In the United States, the latter means using either AT&T’s high-speed 3G network or T-Mobile’s slower 2G network with a trimmed-down SIM card.
After demand for the iPad apparently outstripped supply, Apple delayed the device’s European rollout until the end of May.
So far, Apple has sold nearly 90 million iPhone OS devices worldwide, and recently announced its iAd platform, which will allow developers to monetize free applications.