Apple recently announced that the combined sales of the fourth generation iPad and the iPad mini amounted to 3 million in the first three days after the two products were launched. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster has now estimated that the sales of the fourth generation iPad may have been cannibalised by those of the smaller iPad mini.

As per a report by Cnet, Munster has given his estimate on the break-up of the number of units of each device sold. He states that Apple could have sold between two million and 2.5 million iPad minis. This is much higher than the previous estimate of one million to 1.5 million. This estimate was based on surveys of queues in which nine out of every 10 customers were waiting to purchase the smaller tablet instead of the 9.7-inch iPad.

Available in black as well

Available in black as well

Munster stated that he remains comfortable with his 12.6 billion estimate for overall iPad revenue generated in the December quarter. However, he points out that unit totals may vary depending on the availability of the iPad mini.

Munster states, “Specifically, units may increase driven by iPad Mini, but have a slight cannibalization effect, which, when factoring in the lower [average selling price], would result in revenue unchanged. We are currently modeling for 25 million total iPads including 20 million full-sized iPads and 5 million Minis in December.”

The report adds that a J P Morgan analyst, Mark Moskowitz, also agrees with the estimate that most first weekend sales could have been those of the iPad mini. He states that the iPad mini could grab a share of the $199 tablet segment, and hurt the PC and e-reader market as well, with Apple scheduled to launch cellular versions of the iPad mini and the fourth generation iPad in the near future.

Moscowitz stated, “Given the global economic uncertainty, we think price-sensitive users could gravitate toward an iPad mini instead of making a PC purchase. Our view is that the incremental use case is more differentiated for first-time tablet users. In tough times, unique or 'feel good' purchases can be more amenable to end users, which gives the edge to the tablet versus the PC, in our view.” He adds that the iPad mini could be the device Apple requires to push the growth of the iPad rather than the iPhone. Muskowitz notes, “In our view, barring entry of another new category, Apple's iPad Mini could set the stage for the iPad product set to carry the growth baton in the future, particularly as iPhone growth momentum moderates.”

The iPad mini has an aluminium and glass design 7.2mm thick, and weighs only 0.68 pounds. As per an official statement by Apple, the iPad mini has 35 percent more screen real estate than 7-inch tablets, and up to 67 percent more usable viewing area when browsing the web. The dual-core A5 chip on the iPad mini allows for responsive graphics and a multi-touch experience that Apple believes to be both, fast and fluid while still providing all-day battery life.

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