NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has sold 1 million iPads since their April 3 launch, as the company passed that sales milestone faster than many analysts had expected.
Apple said on Monday that the 9.7-inch touchscreen iPad -- a new category of device that combines the mobility of a smartphone with the speed of a laptop -- reached the million sales mark in only 28 days.
That was much faster than the iPhone, which passed 1 million units sold after 74 days in 2007.
Apple began the second stage of a two-part roll-out of the iPad on Friday when it started selling the pricier, high-speed wireless model in the United States, following the launch of the short-range Wi-Fi tablet earlier in April.
The company, which has already delayed the international iPad launch by a month, said it continues to have difficulty meeting demand.
"Demand continues to exceed supply and we're working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more customers," Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a statement.
Hudson Square Research analyst Daniel Ernst said early sales have clearly exceeded Wall Street's expectations. He had previously estimated sales for the entire June quarter at 1.25 million units.
Ernst said his research indicates that a large portion of buyers are so-called early adopters and people who were already Apple fans, so the breadth of long-term demand is still not clear.
But he called the iPad a "game-changer. This is a product that could really redefine how we consume a lot of content."
Apple has pitched the iPad as an all-purpose media consumption device, good for video, games, electronic books and magazines and Web browsing.
Users have so far downloaded 1.5 million digital books.
Apple also said iPad users have downloaded 12 million software applications, or apps. There are more than 5,000 iPad apps available.
Many on Wall Street expect Apple to sell 5 million iPads this year, although estimates vary due to the difficulty in forecasting for a tablet computer market that is brand new.
The company sold 300,000 iPads on launch day, April 3, and a half million in the first week.
BMO Capital markets analyst Keith Bachman expects Apple to sell 2 million units in the June quarter.
"In many respects, we are encouraged that the international roll-out will not begin until May, which will sustain strong sales in the September quarter and throughout" 2010, Bachman wrote in a client note.
Apple delayed the international launch for a month because of what it said was stronger-than-expected U.S. demand.
International pre-orders will begin May 10, and the device will go one sale in nine new countries later in the month.
Shares of Cupertino, California-based Apple rose 2.1 percent to $266.64 in midday Nasdaq trading on Monday.
Shares of Amazon.com Inc, whose Kindle currently dominates the dedicated e-reader market, rose 0.7 percent to $138.06.
Reporting by Franklin Paul and Gabriel Madway, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and John Wallace