Tim Cook Points to Record Demand for iPad Mini, Apple Keeps Tablet Lead in Q3 2012

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By Erik Pineda | November 6, 2012 4:34 PM EST

News reports have indicated that people lining up for the refreshed regular iPad and the iPad Mini were not as spectacular as the iPhone 5 queues, but Apple reported on Monday that it already sold three million units of all versions of the slate in the first 72 hours of its availability.

Contradicting the not-so-exciting indicators from media reports, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a statement that demand for the new product has been overwhelming, especially in the case of the iPad Mini - the not-so-cheaper 7.9-inch screen version of the classic iPad.

"We set a new launch weekend record and practically sold out of iPad Minis," Reuters reported Mr Cook as saying in the same statement.

He indicated too that the Mini inventory has been depleted after only three days of its commercial launch and replenishment will not arrive until the later weeks of November.

"The iPad Minis were practically sold out . . . (but) we're working hard to build more quickly to meet the incredible demand," the Apple CEO assured.

Apple's report was simultaneously issued with research firm IDC's latest tablet sales figure for Q2 2012, which showed that the tech giant has again sustained its incredible run in the market it virtually created.

Around 14 million of iPads were scooped up by global buyers from July through September this year, the IDC report said, placing the U.S. firm anew on top of the gradually crowding field, which in the immediate quarters ahead will be joined by new tablet brands on the Windows ecosystem.

Yet right now, Apple remains in command of the game but IDC noted too that iPad's hold of the market appears shrinking as the device ended the September quarter with a dominant market pie of 50.4 per cent.

In the previous quarters, Apple sold between six and eight tablets for every 10 grabbed by consumers worldwide, IDC.

Apple's dwindling market share, the research firm clarified, was not because its sales are dropping. More tablets were shipped out in the third quarter, some 28 million units according to IDC, indicating that rivals have ramped up their efforts to challenge the tech giant's hold on the number one position.

Samsung, for one, gained significantly this year following its earlier struggle to convince consumers that its Galaxy Tab lines were equal if not more superior to the bestselling iPad.

Thanks largely to the bigger-screen Galaxy Note 10.1, Samsung finally clocked a double-digit market share as of September, shipping out 5.1 million Galaxy slates in the period to corner 18.4 per cent of the market.

Amazon, AsusTek and Lenovo followed with respective shares of 9 per cent, 8.6 per cent and 1.4 per cent, IDC said. The list was wrapped up by other players which settled on distributing among themselves the more than 12 per cent left out by the big sellers.

Amazon and Asus of course entered the fray via the huge success of the Kindle Fire HD and the Nexus 7, which tech watchers compelled Apple to issue the iPad Mini.

The new IDC report signalled that the tablet competition is getting stiffer by the quarter as the holiday season promises a more exciting war pitting the three ecosystems from Apple, Google and Microsoft.

Apple's new iPad and the iPad Mini is shaping into another record revenue generator, as Mr Cook claimed, and the Android counterattack will soon mount a solid challenge in the form of the Nexus 10, made by Samsung, and the 8.9-inch version of Amazon's Kindle Fire.

Also, Microsoft's Surface RT and Surface Pro plus Windows-powered tablets will soon push the battle to heightened intensity, with IDC indicating that "competitors are turning up the pressure on market leader Apple."

But analysts believe that the iPad brand will not be dethroned any time soon, though it may be relegated to a lesser status as the iPad Mini gradually establishes itself as Apple's foremost tablet product.

Early reviewers reaped praises on the Mini, but they're actually forward-looking, greatly anticipating the improvements that Apple can packed on small but sexy case of the little iPad sibling.

"We believe the iPad Mini has the opportunity to surpass the sales of the regular-sized iPads over the next several years," Topeka Capital analyst Brian White told Reuters on Monday.

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