A Not-So-Scientific Way of Counting iPad Sales on Day One

iPad shoppers at Apple storeGene Munster, a well-known consumer electronics and PC analyst at Piper Jaffray, is a notorious optimist about Apple's (AAPL) prospects, quarter in and quarter out. Before the iPad was released to stores, Munster said he expected the company to sell 200,000 to 300,000 units on its the first day.In a note to clients, picked up by Barron's, Munster upped that forecast considerably based on what he saw on Saturday. He now says Apple sold 600,000 to 700,000 iPads on Day One. The magazine said part of Munster's reasoning was that "lines appeared to be longer than for previous product launches at the 5th Avenue store in New York, with 730 people in line at 9 a.m., compared to 350 at the same time for the iPhone 3GS launch, and 540 for the iPhone 3G."

If that reasoning seems thin, it is. Munster obviously didn't have observers at Apple's 100-plus stores in the U.S. After all, Manhattan alone has four Apple outlets, and L.A. has three. Even Maine and Rhode Island have Apple retail stores.

Munster's numbers are a part of the hype surrounding the iPad launch. Barron's sister publication, The Wall Street Journal, reported about iPad sales by writing "long lines soon faded, and few stores sold out of the device." In the afternoon on April 3, The New York Times reported, "Those who stood in line this morning may not want to hear this, but it appears that in many places iPad supply is keeping up with demand."

Of course, "in many places" still doesn't mean "everywhere." In truth, no one outside Apple and perhaps a few of its business partners knows yet how many iPads were sold at retail the first day.

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