I suspect that Apple would have said something if it sold 1.5M or more iPad Minis. That was the top of the widely cited target range for sales that Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster gave last week ahead of the first weekend when consumers could snap up one of the new tablets with the 8-inch screens. Apple says today that it sold 3M iPads, including its new fourth-generation full-sized model. That’s “double the previous first weekend milestone of 1.5 million Wi-Fi only models sold for the third generation iPad in March,” Apple says. It adds that the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of its iPads will be available in a few weeks in the U.S. before going global. Still, CEO Tim Cook says that Apple “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.” Apple shares are up less than 1% in mid-day trading, and down 8.4% since October 23 when the iPad Mini was introduced.
Apple stores have lines for the 8-inch screen version of its trend-setting iPad. But anecdotal reports indicate that opening weekend sales will fall far short of the pace set by the company’s other recent products. That’s contributed to a 3.4% decline in Apple’s share price today, to $576 in mid-afternoon trading. The price is off 4.5% from about two weeks ago when CEO Tim Cook unveiled his long-awaited challenger to 7-inch screen tablets from Amazon, Google, and Barnes & Noble. Critics say that the iPad Mini, with its $329 entry price, is too expensive to knock out its less costly rivals — which also offer sharper screen images. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster projected that Apple could sell as many as 1.5M units of the new tablet this weekend — about half the number of new iPads Apple moved the weekend in March when they were introduced. But Sterne Agee’s Shaw Wu remains optimistic. ”We believe what a lot of critics miss is that [Apple's] products are still by far the easiest and funnest to use with price points that most find reasonable. We believe this has been instrumental in helping driving greater than expected sales each time.”
UPDATED: Apple‘s new iPad Mini enters the ring against small-sized tablets including Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD. But it doesn’t appear to deliver a knock-out punch. Indeed, the price of Apple shares fell during the roll-out presentation, and are down about 2% in mid-afternoon trading. Apple says the iPad Mini’s 7.9-inch screen compares to the 9.7 inch screen for its larger iPads. The company says the total screen area is 35% larger than the 7-inch screen rivals. But iPad Mini’s screen resolution is 1024 X 768 — which means it’s not as sharp as the Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD. The iPad Mini is 7.2 mm thick, about 25% thinner than the latest iPad. It weights 0.68 pounds. All of the software for the iPad will work on the Mini, unchanged. The iPad Mini has an A5 processor, FaceTime HD camera in front and 5MP iSight camera in back. Beginning November 2, models with 16 GB of storage and communicate via WiFi will sell for $329 (a higher price than the Google and Amazon competitors) with 32GB versions for $429 and 64 GB $529. Two weeks later, iPad Minis with 4G cellular communications will go for $459, $559 and $659.
Meanwhile Apple may infuriate consumers who bought the new iPad introduced in March: The company just announced a fourth-generation model with a more powerful processor and the new Lightning connector. Price starts at $499 with 16GB of storage.