Tech Industry

Apple could sell 1 million iPads on first day

Company has already pushed back the shipping date for the iPad by three days or longer for online orders, which will likely drive lines at the stores.

A million iPads sold in one day is a nice goal, but is it considered conservative?

Apple, already selling out of new iPads on its online store, could break the 1 million mark on Friday alone when it is released.

That's according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who gave the estimate in a research note today.

The figure would far outstrip first-day sales figures for the original iPad, and would likely exceed comparable iPad 2 sales. (Apple didn't disclose that figure.) It highlights the exploding interest in tablets even as other companies struggle to sell their own rival products. The device is slowly evolving from a luxury item into a necessary tool--even if it isn't quite there yet.

While Apple didn't provide a first-day sales figure for the iPad 2, analysts had their range of estimates. Munster a year ago predicted that Apple sold 500,000 over the first weekend, while others went as high as 1 million. Analysts note that the figure could have been smaller because supply constraints limited the number of iPads that Apple could bring to the market.

The 1 million figure could prove to be conservative. Apple could have even more impressive numbers given that it is launching the new iPad in more markets around the world. This year, it'll have a second, less expensive alternative in the $399 iPad 2.

Apple unveiled the new iPad last week, which features a higher-resolution display, a slightly tweaked processor, a 4G LTE connection, and a better camera. While not a massive upgrade to the device, it has still garnered a lot of interest from consumers.

While consumers could order the various versions of the iPad and get it shipped to them by Friday, delays started to pop up within a few days. By last Friday Apple was seeing delays ranging between three days and three weeks, depending on the country.

At the time, Apple told CNET that customer response "has been off the charts." The company declined to comment on Munster's forecast.

The iPad's momentum follows the same upward trajectory as the buildup of momentum from one iPhone to the next, Munster said.

Munster won't be the last analyst to provide an estimate. The difficulties in getting an iPad will likely draw big crowds to the major Apple stores around the world, likely fueling the hype and interest and driving forecasts for iPad sales even higher.