Apple sells 11.8M iPads, showing number of pixels does matter

New iPad

Apple announced it has sold 11.8 million iPads since the company debuted the tablet in early March. The number reflects a 151 percent increase over iPad sales during the same quarter a year ago.

The company released its third version of the iPad this quarter, staring the new Retina Display (2048-by-1536 resolution), which quadruples the amount of pixels packed into the iPad screen. The display was a huge draw for consumers, who purchased over 3 million new iPads during the product’s opening weekend alone. The upgraded tablet also featured a faster A5X chip, a better camera, LTE network capabilities, and updates to the company’s iLife and iWork app suites, which included the long-awaited debut of an iPad version of the iPhoto image-editing software.

Peter Oppenheimer, chief financial officer at Apple, said there were $6.6 billion in sales of iPads and related accessories in this quarter, a 22 percent increase over the same quarter last year. Oppenheimer said the iPad is making big progress in some non-traditional markets, starting with education. Apple has sold two iPads to every one Mac to its U.S. K-12 education customers

“iPads continue to open doors to new customer with whom apple previously had no relationship,” said Oppenheimer. Getting new users young might be what makes education a particularly appealing area for Apple.

Businesses and governments are also fertile areas for iPad sales. The U.S. Air Force has purchased thousands of iPads to act as electronic flight bags for its pilots, and the majority of Fortune 500 companies are members of the iOS developer enterprise program.

“The new iPad is on fire and we’re selling them as fast as we can make them,” said Oppenheimer.

When it was released, the new iPad struck a chord with VentureBeat’s Devindra Hardawar, who after testing the tablet out said, “Apple finally has a tablet that excites me.” Again, most of this was attributed to its new Retina Display. But despite its new hardware, the iPad was met with some criticism, particularly about overheating and battery life. It was said that the new iPad actually runs about 10 degrees warmer than the iPad 2 did. Apple has been known for having products that run warm, but the degree change isn’t really enough to pose a danger to users.

The battery charger for the new iPad has also been called out for charging the machine too slowly. It seems the Retina display demands more juice, and thus the tablet needs more time plugged in.

However, as usual, the complaints did not seem to have much of an impact on Apple’s ability to move the device.