If new iPad sales are so good, where are the numbers?

During today's conference call announcing Apple's cash dividend and stock repurchase plans, CEO Tim Cook said about new iPad's launch: "We had a record weekend, and we're thrilled with it". Later, in a one-sentence press release issued by the nation's second-largest carrier: "On Friday, March 16, AT&T set a new single-day record for its iPad sales and activations". Apple and AT&T today talked record sales without giving actual numbers.

So how many is "record"? Hell if I know. That's the point. "Record" means nothing without real numbers behind it. Did Apple and AT&T sell 45 iPads? That would be a record if sales were 44 during iPad 2's launch. Perhaps the number is 1 million, which would certainly be sales to boast about -- in just 10 countries. (Please jump to the exciting update below.)

Apple has reason not to reveal numbers today, if it plans to at all before the next earnings report. The company's dividend and repurchase plans are news enough to lift the stock. There's PR advantage to waiting a day or two and getting another lift on real iPad sales figures. Not that shareholders are all that giddy about the $2.65 dividend coming during fiscal 2013 first quarter. Shares are up a modest 2.31 percent in mid-afternoon trading.

Anecdotally, I saw lots of iPads yesterday. While my daughter shopped at Fashion Valley Mall here in San Diego, I walked around talking to a Verizon service rep about a major billing screwup. Easily 30 people passed by carrying new iPads. Around 3 pm PDT, there was a short line outside Apple Store. I asked inside. Some models had sold out, but there were still plenty available.

Around 9:30 this morning, Pacific Time, I called to check availability. White is the popular color. The store rep said that AT&T 4G models in white are sold out in all capacities, as are the 16GB and 32GB WiFi. The store has limited quantities of Verizon 4G iPads in all colors.

Apple started taking preorders on March 7 and new iPad arrived in stores on the 16th in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Switzerland, United Kingdon, United States and the US Virgin Islands.

On March 23, iPad store sales will start in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.

I have to ask: Did you buy new iPad? Which one?

Update: Apple released the sales number hours after I posted this story. Unfortunately, I didn't see the announcement until evening. I depend too much on RSS, perhaps. Apple's press release popped way late.

The company says it sold 3 million iPads since launch day, which clearly is a record number. If the RSS timestamp is correct, Apple waited until after market close to reveal the sales figure.

What's not reflected in the number: How many discounted iPad 2s sold over the four days or since Apple cut the price of the 16GB model by $100 on March 7.

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