Weekend Box Office: iPad vs. the iPhone 3G

Love it or hate it, it’s hard not to be astonished by the Hollywood blockbuster-style opening day enjoyed by the iPad. Apple (s AAPL) just announced that it sold 300,000 of the devices. At a base price of $499 (for the 16 GB model), that translates into some $150 million on day one.

Add to the fact that Apple says nearly a million apps and 250,000 e-books were downloaded — we’re looking at a nice little chunk of change here. Some analysts estimated that Apple would  sell more than 600,000  iPads over the weekend. Clearly that didn’t happen. From the Apple release:

Apple today announced that it sold over 300,000 iPads in the US as of midnight Saturday, April 3. These sales included deliveries of pre-ordered iPads to customers, deliveries to channel partners and sales at Apple Retail Stores. Apple also announced that iPad users downloaded over one million apps from Apple’s App Store and over 250,000 ebooks from its iBookstore during the first day. “It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world — it’s going to be a game changer,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “iPad users, on average, downloaded more than three apps and close to one book within hours of unpacking their new iPad.” (Apple Press Release).

In comparison, Apple sold just over 250,000 units during the first weekend the iPhone became available in July 2007. In July 2008, when the 3G iPhone first launched, Apple sold 1 million of those phones the first weekend, and folks downloaded 10 million apps from what was then the four-day-old App Store. That’s an average of 10 apps per phone as compared with 3.3 apps for the iPad, although we have had fewer days of sales to measure the success of the iPad.

However, the iPad is supposed to sell 7.1 million units worldwide in 2010, according to research firm iSuppli, whereas our GigaOM Pro analysts estimate that the conservative sales of the device will be around 6.1 million. (Forecast from GigaOM Pro: Tablet App Sales to Hit $8 Billion by 2015.)