Today in Apple history: iPad sales overtake Macs


The iPad quickly became the world's fastest-selling device.
The iPad quickly became the world's fastest-selling device.
Photo: Yutaka Tsutano/Flickr CC

October 18: Today in Apple history: iPad sales overtake Macs October 18, 2010: Just six months after the original iPad debuts, Steve Jobs reveals that Apple’s tablet already outsells the mighty Macintosh computer.

During the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call, Jobs says Apple sold 4.19 million iPads during the previous three months, compared with 3.89 million Macs.

iPad: Fastest-selling electronics device ever … and a disappointment?

The figure marked an improvement on the 3.3 million iPads Apple sold in the iPad’s first quarter on the market. iPad sales accounted for $2.7 billion (or roughly 13%) of Apple’s $20.34 billion quarterly revenue. By October 2010, the iPad became the fastest-selling electronics device of all time, beating the previous record holder (the DVD player) by a significant margin.

In a sign of things to come, however, analysts expressed disappointment over the iPad’s success. They expected the tablet to immediately become an iPhone-size sales juggernaut. (By comparison, Apple sold 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter.)

Despite the iPad representing a significant revenue stream that didn’t even exist six months earlier, analysts expected Apple to sell 5 million tablets that quarter. So they chalked up the 4.19 million figure as a disappointment.

This silly theme continued in subsequent years. However many tablets Apple sold — or however varied the iPad’s uses, adoption and sales — critics frequently wrote off the device as falling short of expectations.

Steve Jobs says iPad will be ‘really, really big’

Jobs, however, wasn’t having any of it. “I think we’ve got a tiger by the tail,” he said, answering a question about the iPad’s likely sales trajectory. “I think it’s going to be really, really big.”

He also used the occasion to throw some shade on Apple’s rivals. Their 7-inch tablets offered just 45% of the screen real estate of the first-gen iPad‘s 9.7-inch display.

Jobs proclaimed these rivals “DOA — dead on arrival.” Scathingly, he refused to even acknowledge them as “competitors,” but more as “qualified entrants” into the marketplace.

Finally, he took digs at Google, which advised manufacturers not to use the current version of Android for their tablets. “What does it mean when your software supplier tells you not to use their software on your tablet?” Jobs asked.

Today, a Mac/iPad comparison shows that the Apple co-founder was right about the success of the tablet. The total for Mac shipments in 2022 was 26.0 million, while 63.6 million iPads shipped in the same period. And Apple’s tablet dominates its Android-based competitors, with its strongest rival shipping about half as many units.

When did you buy your first iPad? Did you help make it the fastest-selling tech device in history? Leave your comments below.


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