Apple randomizing Web order numbers to veil iPad 2 sales?

An Apple Insider report suggests that the company is randomizing its Web order numbers to keep people from guessing how many iPad 2 units it's sold.

Josh Lowensohn Former Senior Writer
Josh Lowensohn joined CNET in 2006 and now covers Apple. Before that, Josh wrote about everything from new Web start-ups, to remote-controlled robots that watch your house. Prior to joining CNET, Josh covered breaking video game news, as well as reviewing game software. His current console favorite is the Xbox 360.
Josh Lowensohn
2 min read
An Apple order

Since Apple has still not announced how many iPad 2s it's sold since the device went on sale last Friday, analysts and onlookers alike have tried to scrap together numbers from line counts, anecdotal stock reports, and order numbers.

That last part of the strategy may no longer work, however. Citing sources familiar with Apple's ordering system, Apple Insider reports that Apple has tweaked its Web ordering tools to randomize order numbers so that users can't figure out how many units the company has moved between two different points in time.

During the first iPad launch, forum users on Investor Village's AAPL Sanity Board shared Web order numbers with one another and put them into a spreadsheet, eventually discovering that they were in a specific order. Putting them in line and with time codes, the group was able to determine that Apple was selling around 25,000 per hour, well ahead of company's official announcement a day and a half later.

Along with the randomization claim, Apple Insider says Apple's early opening at its retail stores yesterday to cope with long lines was actually using stock delivered the day before. That move, the blog's source says, was to keep mistakes from being made in the rush to get freshly-delivered iPad 2 units to buyers.

So far analysts have estimated that on its first day of iPad 2 sales, Apple sold to frenzied buyers anywhere from half a million of the devices, all the way to 1 million, compared to the 300,000 it sold on the first day of sales for the first-generation iPad. Last year the company revealed its first day sales just two days after the device went on sale.