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.

  • AAPL.To.Break.$115.Soon.>:-)

    It appears as though every product Apple sells is quickly written off as a failure due to some outsider’s sales expectations not being met. That’s something I really can’t wrap my head around. It’s true that if Apple lowered it’s prices, the company could sell a heck of a lot more units but I guess that’s not the way Apple operates. I think higher prices are best for Apple but it’s probably a killer for Apple shareholders. Wall Street only gives high value to companies which have a market cornered and I don’t think Apple will ever corner any market. Each time Apple gets into a prosperous market it’s quickly overrun by manufacturers happily willing to undercut Apple’s products in price and then Apple’s market share quickly disappears. After that, it’s doom and gloom reports for Apple and how they’re losing market share and the company is dying. Highest market share continues to be Wall Street’s standard for company value.

    Wall Street has written off Apple’s current tablet market as being nearly worthless and maybe it is when compared to iPhone sales. I doubt there’s anything Apple can do about it. It will be nearly impossible, in my opinion, whether Apple can find another product that even comes halfway close to iPhone sales or iPhone revenue. It appears as though Apple shareholders will remain screwed over while other tech companies get significant gains. Tim Cook has no answers and that’s a huge problem for a company sitting on a mountain of unused cash.

  • thesavvyeater

    Bought the iPad 2 as soon as it came out. It took me that long to save for it otherwise would have bought Gen 1. I used the heck out of that thing until ultimately buying an iPad Air and just within the last two months, upgrading to a 9.7″ iPad Pro with Apple Pencil. It is a fantastic product for my use cases and I would hate to be without it. (PS- I couldn’t give a shit less about what analysts have to say. I buy what I want, not what someone wants me to buy, or suggests I buy for whatever myriad reasons.)

  • iscaro

    Started with the first iPad, then the iPad 3, then the iPad Air and then, after a few months without a tablet,I’ve bought and I’m still on the iPad Air 2 that works really good for me…
    but on day I’m going to get a Pro just because of the stereo speakers should be a must for every tablet.