Apple reported 3 million iPads sold since the new-generation tablet went on sale on March 16, marking the strongest launch yet for an iPad. During a conference call on March 19, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the new iPad has sold in record numbers.

AT&T also said that March 16, the release date of the new device, marked a single-day record for iPad sales and activations. The carrier, however, did not give specific numbers to support this claim. On March 19, Phillip Schiller, Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing, posted a statement on the company's website, claiming that the weekend had produced the strongest iPad launch yet.

More than Analysts Had Estimated

Analysts had estimated that Apple could sell as many as 1 million units of the new iPad on its launch day. While the sell-through number is impossible to predict, given uncertain iPad supply levels, sales of over [1 million] iPads on launch day would be a slight positive relative to the Street consensus at 10.1 iPads in the Mar-12 quarter, wrote Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, in a co-authored March 12 research note.

Piper Jaffray observed roughly 750 people standing in line around Apple's Fifth Avenue store on March 16. The number was better than we expected, commented the firm, considering the 8 a.m. release date on a Friday, when many people would presumably head to work, and the nine days of preorders for the new iPad.

Meanwhile, eWEEK observed a line of several dozen iPad purchasers at the nearby Grand Central Terminal store. News reports further indicate that Apple Stores around the country had lines in front of them ahead of the opening. Moreover, shipment times from Apple's online store have increased up to two or three weeks, indicating high demand for the new tablet.

'Best Display Ever on a Mobile Device'

The new iPad's high-resolution Retina display is, without a doubt, the greatest feature the new tablet has to offer, and the determining factor in customer's choice to purchase the next-generation device. Apple's claim that the new iPad's display is the best display ever on a mobile device has also been confirmed by DisplayMate's battery of image quality tests.

Prices for the new iPad start from $499 for the 16GB WiFi-only model and top out at $699 for the WiFi-only 64GB model and $829 for the 64GB model with WiFi + 4G connectivity. U.S. customers can purchase the new iPad with 4G LTE connectivity on either AT&T or Verizon Wireless.

(reported by Alexandra Burlacu, edited by Surojit Chatterjee)

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