Apple sells 3 million iPads, iPad mini tablets in first weekend

While many are still suffering in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Apple still reported a new sales "record" only three days after the latest iPad mini launched in stores.

Apple said it sold three million new iPads since the latest tablets -- the fourth-generation iPad, and the 7-inch iPad mini -- were launched late last month. 

No doubt at least one person will be pleased -- ahem .

The company's press release landed this morning after the first weekend the shiny rectangles went on sale, in which Apple called the feat a new "weekend record." That said, many who pre-ordered are still waiting for their new tablets to arrive, while Wi-Fi + Cellular versions are still due to ship in "mid-November."

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in prepared remarks:

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... 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.

"Practically sold out," perhaps, but Apple didn't provide numbers. The figures weren't broken down, only that the fourth-generation iPad and new iPad mini sales combined reached 3 million. 

The technology giant said this doubles the previous first weekend milestone of 1.5 million Wi-Fi only models sold for the iPad 3 in mid-March

But the results were not as grand as previous launches, thanks to Hurricane Sandy kicking ten bells out of the Eastern Seaboard, causing widespread power outages in major metropolitan areas, which understandably left the vast majority more focused on getting their lives back on track than buying the latest Apple product.

Analysts had expected anything from 800,000 devices sold to 1.5 million in the first weekend. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster saw his initial estimate double across the new iPad range, in spite of New York's "unique circumstances" due to Sandy, and "two of the five Apple Stores in New York are closed due to power outages."

He said on Friday:

[We] continue to feel comfortable with our 1-1.5 million iPad Mini launch weekend estimate and 5 million estimate for the December quarter.

But we have no idea how many iPad mini tablets were sold, likely due to poor initial performance. We'll likely get a first hit of iPad mini sales breakdowns after Christmas at Apple's first quarter earnings.

Munster added:

The reason we expect fewer iPad Minis compared to the [third-generation iPad] is because of the lack of the wireless option and newness of the smaller form factor for consumers... We believe that the smaller tablet market has lacked the presence of a smaller iPad that brings the Apple ecosystem and brand to that market.

Apple's share price has nigh on collapsed in the past few days, particularly since the media event late last month in which the new range of iPads and Macs were announced . A management shake-up didn't help the share price much , either. The firm was trading up by more than 1.5 percent at times during pre-market trading this morning on the new, edging back to its once-already-seen historic $600 a share mark.

Image credits: James Martin/CNET; Google Finance.

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