Update: Apple sells 2M iPads, on track for 7.6M in 2010

Sales leave most early 2010 estimates in the dust

Apple said Monday that it had sold more than two million iPads since it launched the tablet two months ago.

The announcement came on the heels of the iPad's debut in Europe, Australia, Canada and Japan, where crowds lined up last Friday to buy the new media tablet, and amid continued reports that supplies are tight in the U.S., where Apple's online store lists a seven-to-10-day delay between ordering and shipping.

"We appreciate [customers'] patience, and are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs in a statement on Monday.

Apple's milestone is considerably higher than most Wall Street analysts' projections earlier this year. Shortly after Jobs unveiled the iPad in January, analysts estimated that Apple would sell between 175,000 and 778,000 iPads monthly.

Brian Marshall of BroadPoint AmTech posted the most aggressive Jan. 28 estimate of 778,000 tablets per month during 2010, or more than 6.2 million for the year. Since then, Marshall has raised his iPad estimate to seven million, while industry research firms such as Gartner have pegged the number at eight million.

iPads have actually been on sale longer than the "less than 60 days" touted by Apple today: The company's sales numbers include pre-orders in the U.S., which began March 12. Those pre-orders were fulfilled April 3, when the tablet officially hit retail.

By Apple's admission it's sold 181,818 iPads per week in the 11 weeks since the March 12 start of pre-orders in the U.S. If sales remain at that level, Apple will sell another 5.6 million in the remaining 31 weeks in 2010, for a total of 7.6 million iPads for the full year.

That number is likely to be larger, however, as Apple expands sales. Also on Monday, the company said it would launch the iPad in nine more countries in July, and still others later this year. Apple did not specify which countries will make up the July nine or how many markets it will enter before year's end.

Although iPad sales are on track to reach nearly eight million units for the year, the tablet can't touch Apple's iPhone. Last summer, Apple sold a million iPhone 3GS smartphones in the new device's first three days of availability.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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