Apple has claimed a 'record' first weekend of new iPad sales, with 3 million units sold globally in the days following the tablet's official release.
Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke briefly about the new iPad launch during a conference call this morning to announce Apple's dividend and stock repurchase program . "We had a record weekend, and we're thrilled with it," Cook said.
Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Philip Schiller said it was the strongest Apple product launch yet.
"Customers are loving the incredible new features of iPad, and we can't wait to get it into the hands of even more customers around the world this Friday."
Cook opened the call with some eye-popping figures for Apple's products. He said Apple sold 37 million iPhones in last quarter. "That's a very large number," Cook said, "but it represents less than 9 percent of handsets sold in the quarter.
"The handset market is expected to grow dramatically in the years ahead from 1.6 billion [units] in 2011 to over 2 billion [units] in 2015," Cook added. "It is our belief that eventually all handsets will be smartphones, so the potential for iPhone is enormous."
And then there's the iPad. Cook said the tablet is off to "an amazing start," selling more than 55 million units since the product launched in the spring of 2010; in fact, Apple sold 15.43 million iPads in its fiscal 2012 first quarter alone. He added that Gartner research predicts the tablet market will reach 325 million units by 2013.
"We believe the tablet market will eventually surpass the PC market in size. It's just a question of when," Cook said.
Cook also briefly discussed Apple's expanding business operations, both in retail and in the channel. He said the company is growing its distribution around the world and has opened 40 new retail stories in this quarter alone.
"We're expanding our footprint with new carrier partners and other third-party resellers, and we are investing in our direct enterprise sales force," Cook said.
Australians were among the first to get their hands on the latest iPad, forming one of eight countries to receive the first shipments on March 16. The new iPad will arrive in New Zealand and several European countries from March 23.
The likes of Telstra and Big W opened their doors at midnight last Friday. The iPad is currently also on sale through Optus, Vodafone, Dick Smith, JB Hi-Fi and Target alongside Apple's online store.