Apple Could Lose $100 Million Per Day If The iPad 3 Doesn’t Ship Tomorrow

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Apple's crazy unit sales. Chart Francesco Schwarz (CC BY 3.0)
Apple's crazy unit sales. Chart Francesco Schwarz (CC BY 3.0)

What if Apple launches the iPad 3 tomorrow and it doesn’t ship for another week and a half? The company could lose almost $1bn in sales. Here’s how:

Apple sold 15.43 million iPads in the first quarter of this year. Divide that by 14 weeks (98 days) and you get 157,450 per day. We’ll take the price of an iPad as being halfway between the $499 model and the most expensive $829 model. That gives us a figure of $664.

So, crunching the numbers Apple is making around $104,546,122 per day. That’s $100m per day Apple stands to lose if people stop buying the iPad 2 to wait for the iPad 3.

That’s a lot of money, and explains why Apple is willing to invest so much in both keeping the iPad 3 a secret, and in getting the things into stores as soon as possible after the announcement on Wednesday. As Alex reported yesterday, “Apple has singlehandedly bought the majority of air cargo space coming out of China at premium rates.” That may sound lavish, but it’s probably cheap compared to the potential loss of sales.

And that secrecy can’t come cheap, either. How in hell do you manage to ship millions and millions of units of possibly the hottest consumer electronics item today, without a single leak? Because you can be sure that, even if the iPad 3 doesn’t go on sale on Wednesday afternoon, there are still millions of the things in the airplanes above your head right now.

Of course, my numbers are not entirely accurate. They take in the holiday quarter, and they also assume that everyone will just stop buying iPads until the new model is available. They were also produced by me, and my math is terrible. But they do give an idea as to why Apple has its supply line so incredibly locked down: because its cheaper than the alternatives.