Friday, August 10, 2012

Apple's U.S. iPad sales revealed as part of Samsung patent trial, breakout assists publishers evaluating the market for their new digital editions

By far the number question I get asked by publishers looking to launch new tablet editions is what the market penetration of the iPad is in their particular country. Sorry, I haven't a clue and can only guess.

In fact, Apple, while more open about their sales numbers than a number of other tech companies, their Form 1-Q reports do not break out sales by country by product. What Apple does report is total revenue by region and then the total number of units worldwide. Because of this, it has been hard to calculate how many iPads, for instance, have been sold in the U.S. versus worldwide.

But the Samsung-Apple patent trial has opened up some information. This allows us to update our ongoing table of tablet sales with a little more detail:
First a note: I first saw these figures on AppleInsider and I assume they were reproduced from the court docs. The figures reported appear to reflect the normal calendar rather than the fiscal calendar, so I have adjusted the numbers, moving them into the proper fiscal quarter. The original iPad was released on April 3, 2010 with the international launch date of May 28, 2010 – that would be Apple's third quarter.

What I find striking here is that worldwide sales, excluding the U.S., are much higher, quicker, than I had thought. While 84 million iPad units sold worldwide impresses me, 34 million in the U.S. is hard to evaluate – is this a good number or are we a quarter or two away from really being able to say the iPad has reached a critical level of market penetration?

Having said that, court docs also show that Samsung's total U.S. sales of tablets so far only total 1.438 million units, a pretty pathetic number in comparison to the iPad.

How many households does 34 million iPads represent? That is hard to say, isn't it? I own two iPads, but I know of many households without any. (The latest census shows that there are approximately 114.8 million households in the U.S., by the way. Now get out your calculators!)

Knowing that Samsung is getting crushed by Apple pretty much reinforces the strategies being worked by many publishing companies: develop mobile for iOS and Android, but develop tablet editions primarily for iOS and leave Android tablets for replica editions (such as Zinio).

The next number I'd love to see revealed is a solid number from Amazon of total Kindle Fire sales.