Today in Apple history: iPad sales overtake Macs

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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 October 18, 2010: Six months after the iPad debuts, Steve Jobs reveals that Apple’s tablet is already outselling Macs.

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 marks an improvement on the 3.3 million iPads Apple sold in its first quarter. It accounts for $2.7 billion of Apple’s $20.34 billion for the quarter, or roughly 13 percent of quarterly revenue. By October 2010, the iPad is 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 express disappointment over Apple’s iPad success. They expected the tablet to immediately become an iPhone-size sales juggernaut. (The iPhone, by comparison, sold 14.1 million iPhones in the quarter.)

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

This starts a theme that has continued in the years since. However many tablets Apple sells — or however varied the iPad’s uses, adoption and sales are — the device is written off 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, who were still making 7-inch tablets, offering just 45 percent of the first-gen iPad’s 11-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 market place.

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

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