iPad Mini, new iPad set new sales record (sort of)

Apple said it had sold 3 million iPad tablets in the first weekend that the iPad Mini and the fourth-generation iPad were available. 

Customers line up for the opening of a new Apple store in Shenzhen, China, on Nov. 3. Apple's first store in South China opened on Saturday at the Holiday Plaza in the Nanshan district of Shenzhen. It is the seventh Apple store on the Chinese mainland, local media reported.

Apple sold 3 million iPads in the three days following the launch of the iPad Mini and the fourth-generation iPad, the Cupertino company said today. Apple did not further break down that figure, so it remains unclear precisely how many Minis were actually unloaded, but in a statement, Apple CEO Tim Cook said interest in the high-powered, pint-sized tablet remained robust. 

"Customers around the world love the new iPad mini and fourth generation iPad," Mr. Cook said. "We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad minis. We're working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand."

About that "launch weekend record": Earlier this year, customers reportedly snapped up 1.5 million Wi-Fi-only third-generation iPads in the first weekend that device was available. Because the fourth-generation and iPad Mini are currently only available in Wi-Fi versions (4G units will become available in the next couple of weeks), Apple can kind of/sort of said it broke its own record with the newest tablets. 

Of course, as Chloe Albanesius points out over at PC Mag, Apple actually sold a total of 3 million third-generation iPads between March 16 and 19. (Unsurprisingly, Apple's marketing chief, Philip Schiller, said at the time that the third-generation iPad was a "blockbuster with 3 million sold – the strongest iPad launch yet.") Still, "launch weekend record" has such a nice ring to it!

Analysts have predicted that the Mini, essentially a "tweener" device – midway between smartphone and tablet – will fall somewhat short of past Apple product launches. Which makes sense: If you already own a full-sized iPad (and plenty of you do) and an iPhone, you'll be hard-pressed to fork over the extra $329 for a third Apple handset. 

"We continue to believe that while launch lines and initial weekend sales may not be as impressive as previous iPad launches, the iPad Mini will be a hit product for Apple and become a more significant part of the story over the next 2-3 quarters," Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray wrote in a note to clients obtained by MarketWatch

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

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