How many iPads were sold last quarter?

Another Fortune survey of analysts finds a wide gap in forecasts, with a median estimate of 18 million for the third quarter.

Apple's latest iPad.
Apple's latest iPad. Apple

Apple may have sold anywhere from 14.8 million to 23 million iPads last quarter, at least according to a poll of analysts compiled by Fortune.

The low and high estimates offered by the 61 analysts showed a huge disparity in opinion.

On the low end, Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty sees just 15 million tablets sold, while Stern Agee's Shaw Wu predicts 16.5 million. On the high end, many of the forecasts came from analysts who work for independent research firms -- not Wall Street investment groups -- and showed a range of 19.5 million up to 23 million.

The estimates were taken at different times of the year. Most of them are from October, but several are from September and a few date back as far as July.

The average forecast among the analysts was 18.38 million, while the median was 18.13 million.

How do those numbers compare with those from previous quarters?

In second quarter, Apple sold 17 million iPads, a jump from 11.8 million in the first quarter. In 2011, Apple sold 15.4 million tablets in the fourth quarter, up from 11.1 million in the third quarter.

Next Thursday, the company will report earnings from the third quarter -- which is Apple's fourth fiscal quarter.

Apple's bread-and-butter is the iPhone, which likely contributes almost two-thirds of the company's profits, according to Business Insider. In contrast, the iPad may generate only around 10 percent to 15 percent of total profits.

The iPad may get some competition very soon, and from Apple itself. The company is hosting a media event on October 23 in which it's expected to unveil the iPad Mini.

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