You know what? It looks like there are people out there who really want iPads. Just 80 days after launching the 10 inch tablet running a slightly modified version of the iPhone operating system with a faster ARM-based processor, Apple has announced that 3-million iPads have been sold.

It’s no real surprise that sales are picking up despite the fact that there’s been ample time for everyone in America who wants an iPad to pick one up — because the tablet only recently went on sale overseas. Still, it looks like demand for the tablet remains pretty high.

Does this mean that the iPad and/or touch-friendly tablets with simplified user interfaces are here to stay? It’s really too early to tell. As Lee Mathews points out, the fact that a large number of people are buying something doesn’t mean it’s not a fad. In fact, that’s the very definition of a fad — the question is whether they’ll continue buying them for years to come or whether the iPad will be hot for a limited period of time before fading into oblivion. And we just don’t know the answer to that question yet.

As things stand, there are few things that the iPad can do that you can’t do with an iPhone — especially with a new iPhone shipping this week that will have the same processor and a similar screen resolution to the iPad. But a number of activities including surfing the web or watching videos are generally a lot more pleasant on a 10 inch display than a 3 to 4 inch screen. So I’m not entirely surprised to see people rushing out to buy devices that are essentially oversized smartphones.

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4 replies on “Apple: 3 million iPads sold in less than 3 months”

  1. How long does something have to sell before it moves beyond accusations of being a “fad”? Many naysayers still claim that the Nintendo Wii is a fad.

    Just as aggressive sales rates don’t dispel the notion of fad, neither does production levels that meet up with customer demand proof that it was a fad whose time has passed.

    In the end all this talk about the iPad being a fad is nothing more than attempts to spin sales figures to line up with a preconceived negative opinion. If that is not true, what purpose is served by tagging something as being a “fad”?

  2. Touch pads passed that “Yeah, that seems useful” test a long time ago.

    When Yeoman Janice Rand, walked up to Captain Kirk in 1966 with what appeared to be a “computerized” logbook about a billion nerds nodded thinking “Sure in the future we won’t sign ‘paper forms’, it will all be on tiny computers”. And now those nerds in 1966 who are now in their 50s and making it come true. But the form factor and the idea of an ‘electronic slate’ is just obvious. If slates, scrolls, paper pages all worked for 5000 years the so will the electronic equivalent.

    Will iPad be that device? Maybe not. But it is the first working model that is the glimmer of a proof of the concept being possible. In ten, or fifteen years the concept will be perfected and then we’ll all have tackle the trying to put computers in our heads.

  3. I’d say that it’s too early to say whether the iPad is a fad or not… But I personally don’t believe that it is. It’s a form factor that people are very familiar with and it’s easier for non-technical people to grasp how to use touch as input and become familiar with it. Also, the ‘weaknesses’ of iOS that keep it from being truly friendly to tech-savvy people also make it dead simple for the non-tech savvy to manage, which may be the true secret of the devices success…

    But time will tell.

  4. And if the press release about Write Pad 4 is correct, it may be a useful as a note-taker along with a stylus (because writing with your finger is silly).

    I’ve played with one in the store and its a marvel, and everyone that I know that has one loves it. My one complaint about smartphones and PDAs has always been screen size.

    I’d love there to be better options, but I have yet to see an Android or Windows demo that seems to work as well as the iPad OS. The OS has always been the secret of the iPhone’s success, so I don’t see why that shouldn’t carry over to the iPad.

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