iPad 'Sells Out,' 'iAds' Coming April 7?

A couple of weeks ago when the iPad became available for pre-sale it was reported that iPad was selling at a very impressive 25K units per hour. Then the news came that unit sales had slowed, according to "back of the envelope" estimates. Perhaps the iPad wasn't going to be a hit and it was merely the hungry "fanboys" (and girls) buying the device.

But the initial shipment of iPads has apparently "sold out" according to several sources. The Apple website indicates that a pre-ordered iPad now won't be available for shipment until April 12. The first iPads arrive (also at BestBuy) on April 3. 

Current sales estimates see pre-orders closing in on 500K units. Availability at BestBuy will boost the iPad because the ability to touch and play with the device -- having one in your hand -- is likely to create demand and sales, as Newsweek's Daniel Lyons discovered (shifting from critic to booster).

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Meanwhile there's a rumor that Apple is about to unveil a new mobile ad platform on April 7, built on its Quattro Wireless acquisition, called "iAd." A MediaPost report first captured the rumor:

Apple is preparing to announce its "next big thing" -- a new personalized, mobile advertising system that could well be called the "iAd" -- Online Media Daily has learned. The new ad platform, which will be officially unveiled to Madison Avenue on April 7th, has been described as "revolutionary" and "our next big thing" by Apple chief Steve Jobs, according to executives familiar with the plan. 

If the iPad is a success it will bolster an already formidable user base that will likely reach 100 million consumers on a global basis later this year. Depending on the capabilities of the hypothetical new ad platform/network it could prove very appealing to marketers. But we'll wait and see what appears, if anything.

Finally, here are some data from a recent NPD Group survey (n=2,000 US consumers) about iPad awareness and purchase intent:

  • iPad awareness is highest among current Apple owners, (82%), consumers with $100,000 or greater income (80%), and 18-34 year olds (78%).
  • Only 18% of all consumers surveyed expressed a real interest in owning an iPad while 27% of 18-34 year olds and 24% of Apple owners said they were extremely or very interested.
  • Among the 18-34 year old demographic, 57% cited price as the number one reason they aren’t ready to buy. Among Apple owners, 43% felt that the pricing was too expensive.
  • When asked what the likelihood of purchasing an iPad in the next six months was, 9% of all consumers surveyed said they were “extremely or very likely” to do so, as did 10% of 18-34 years olds and 9% of Apple owners.
  • 66% of both the all consumers surveyed and 18-34 year olds don’t foresee an iPad purchase in their future, and 60% of Apple owners felt the same way.

These pre-launch surveys have limited value except to provide a rough measure potential interest and awareness. Once the device is available to use in stores, demand will likely increase, as I've argued above. As the survey data indicate, however, the device must overcome a perception that it's unnecessary and it will also likely continue to be a toy for the affluent.

If Apple lowers the pricing, however, as it has indicated it may do and as it did with the iPhone, that will clearly stoke demand as well and may help push it "down market."  

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