The Apple iPad has hit a sales rate of 4.5 million units per quarter, according to analysts at Bernstein Research, which is enough to edge out cell phones and gaming hardware as the fourth largest consumer electronics category with an expected $9 billion-plus in US sales next year.
“The iPad did not seem destined to be a runaway product success straight out of the box,” wrote Colin McGranahan, an analyst with Bernstein Research. “By any account, the iPad is a runaway success of unprecedented proportion,” he added.
Through its first full quarter of availability, Apple sold approximately 3.3 million iPads. The iPad has since launched in China, the world’s largest mobile market, and is now available at Best Buy and Target stores, as well as Amazon.com. Walmart has announced intentions to sell the tablet by the end of 2010.
For perspective on the number, Apple sold one million iPhones through its first quarter of release and only 350,000 DVD players were sold in its first year of availability. Before the iPad, the DVD player was the most quickly adopted non-phone consumer tech product.
McGranahan believes the iPad is not only hurting sales of PCs and laptops, but digital cameras, HDTVs, and other big-ticket items.
“It is the rare American household that would spend $600-plus dollars on an iPad and buy a TV or a PC or a digital camera in the same month, or the same quarter, or maybe even the same year,” he said.