Apple sold over 300,000 iPads when the eagerly-anticipated tablet computer was launched Saturday, the company announced Monday.

The sales figure included units that had been pre-ordered online and which were bought directly from retail stores, Apple said. The official sales figure was broadly in line with earlier Apple estimates.

But it was just half of the widely quoted sales figure of 600,000 to 700,000 units estimated by analyst Gene Munster Sunday.

Reports in the US also indicated that despite long lines at Apple's retail stores early Saturday, Apple had ample supply of the devices and customers could walk in to buy iPads without any waiting later in the day.

Apple hopes that the touch-screen device will bridge the gap between smartphones and laptops and popularise a new kind of digital device – this despite the failures of earlier tablet computers to catch on with consumers over the past ten years.

“It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world – it's going to be a game changer,” said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. “iPad users, on average, downloaded more than three apps and close to one book within hours of unpacking their new iPad.”

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