Analyst Estimate: 150,000 iPads Pre-Ordered Already

While the number isn’t official (Apple (s aapl) isn’t exactly free and easy with its sales figures), one analyst is saying that although its early yet to tell, it looks like the iPad is on track to break some pretty significant records in terms of order volume. Amateur Apple (s aapl) analyst Daniel Tello, who regularly outguesses the pros, is now saying that around 152,000 iPads have been pre-ordered in the first 72 hours of availability.

Tello’s approach involves extrapolating Apple web order numbers. This time around, he worked with Victor Castroll, a Valcent Financial Group analyst. Together, they surveyed a sample group and found 120 orders for 137 iPads over 58 hours beginning at 8:30 A.M. Friday morning.

From there, Tello applied a formula that subtracts non-iPad orders on Apple’s site and multiplies the resulting number by an average of 1.125 iPads per order. Finally, he added in 2,000 units for late-night hours during which time they had no data. In the end, the total arrived at was 152,000 ending at midnight on Sunday. The number doesn’t factor in iPads reserved for in-store pickup.
Tello is quick to note that even though the number seems fairly impressive for a brand new product, there was actually a huge dip in pre-order numbers following the initial day. First day sales saw 120,000 pre-orders, at a rate of around 25,000 per hour. By Sunday, that hourly rate had slowed to about 1,000. The initial spike is explained by “overexcited fanboism” according to Tello.
Based on the current numbers, Tello estimates that pre-order numbers won’t exceed much more than half a million. He anticipates when the iPad will hit the magic million-unit mark in an interview with Fortune:

My best guess, although very tentative given the early stage and few data we have so far, would be that they hit the 1 million unit milestone by the second week after it ships. But this is a very speculative guesstimate based on just a weekend of pre-orders.

To hit 1 million two weeks after shipping would be a major milestone, not only for Apple itself, but for the entire tablet market. The iPhone took 74 days before it reached 1 millions sold, and the sales numbers for the entire tablet industry is only around 3 to 4 million a year according to Engadget. Apple would then be on pace to actually double or triple the sales numbers of its entire market segment on its own in the first year of sales, if the iPad sells roughly as many units as did the iPhone in its first year.
Tello’s numbers also provide a snapshot of what kind of iPads are being sold in what quantities. The Wi-Fi only model is strongly outselling the Wi-Fi + 3G version, by a margin of almost exactly two to one. It’s not surprising given the price difference between the two, and the growing prevalence of MiFi devices that convert users’ existing cellular data plans into usable Wi-Fi. Surprisingly, storage capacities are more evenly divided, with the 16GB, 32GB and 64GB models taking roughly a third of the pre-orders each.
Remember also that these sales figures are only for the U.S. so far. International versions of the device aren’t due to go on sale until sometime in late April at the earliest. The real challenge for Apple will be the first few weeks of in-store availability, which is when the general public will be making purchases, and not just the devoted Apple faithful willing to put down a pre-order. If both international customers and the general buyer reflect anywhere near the enthusiasm of the pre-order crowd, Apple will definitely have a hit on its hands, but I’d wait till the hype effect has passed before placing any real bets about the iPad’s future success.
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