The iPad 2 launch created a familiar scene at Apple stores across the country, as shoppers lined up early to buy the device. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster increased his first day sales estimate for the iPad 2 to an upper range of 500,000 units after initial demand surpassed his expectations, with some Apple retail stores drawing 104 percent longer lines than last year’s launch.
The iPad 2, a device that was unveiled just 10 days ago, launched to huge crowds and inventory that sold out quickly, both in stores and online. Shipping times for online orders, which opened yesterday morning at 1 a.m. PT–some 16 hours before the first Apple retail stores began selling the iPad 2–were quickly pushed from days into weeks. This left the best chance for customers who wanted to pick up a device before April being to head to one of Apple’s stores, or its partner retailers such as Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, and carrier stores for Verizon and AT&T.
The iPad line is the fastest-selling technology product in history, measured by revenue, said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies Inc. In less than three months, it topped $2 billion — a milestone the iPhone took more than six quarters to reach. The second version has a head start on rivals, which are only now releasing their first models. It’s also benefiting from distribution through additional retail outlets.
“Apple has such a huge lead,” said Bajarin, who has covered the industry for more than 20 years and works as a technology consultant. He projects 500,000 units in two days. “Competitors are going to be chasing Apple for many years.” Analysts had been steadily raising their estimates in the build-up to the iPad 2 launch. A report late Thursday suggested Apple could sell as many as 600,000 iPad 2 units this weekend. On Friday, Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities said he “would not be surprised” if weekend sales of the device topped 1 million.