Will the iPad tablet best the Apple iPhone in initial sales?

According to one report, Apple has already sold hundreds of thousands of iPad tablet computers. But will the device duplicate the success of the iPhone?

Will the iPad tablet be as popular as the Apple iPhone?

First came the hype. Next were the worries about 3G connections and general availability. Now much of the buzz surrounding the forthcoming Apple iPad, which is due in stores on April 3, is numbers based – how many iPads can Apple sell? And more important, will the iPad tablet match the strong initial sales of the Apple iPhone?

As Horizons blogger Chris Gaylord wrote last February, there is reason to be skeptical. "Many computermakers have dived into the tablet market over the past decade – most landing in a belly flop," Gaylord noted. "Some foresee a similarly soggy future for the iPad. It uses a virtual keyboard instead of real buttons, can’t load every website, and various models cost between $499 and $829."

Back in 2007, Apple managed to sell one million iPhones in 74 days – a solid start for the now ubiquitous smart phone. By comparison, the Apple iPod, launched in 2001, initially looked like a bit of a turkey. Sales remained relatively low quarter after quarter after quarter – and then the device took off, becoming a must-have digital device for consumers of all ages.

It's worth remembering that the Apple iPad might be more like that iPod than the iPhone – a groundbreaking device that opens up a new market. (Already, companies such as Fusion Garage are getting ready to roll out their own tablet devices.) Or not: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple has already sold "hundreds of thousands" of iPads on pre-order.

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