Cook: Apple enjoyed 'record weekend' of iPad sales

Crowds turned out for the iPad launch this weekend.

Apple executives were focusing their attention on the company’s dividend and stock buyback program Monday morning, but they did provide some news about last Friday’s launch of the third-generation iPad. And the news, from Apple’s perspective, couldn’t be better.

“We had a record weekend, and we’re thrilled with it,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook, in response to a Wall Street analyst’s question about iPad sales before steering the conversation back to Apple’s plans to pay out $2.65 per share starting in this July and buy back $10 billion in stock in the next fiscal year.

In fact, later on Monday, Apple confirmed that it had sold 3 million new iPads since the third-generation version launched on Friday. Apple senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller said it was “the strongest iPad launch yet” and, in a statement accompanying the news that sales topped the 3 million mark, hailed the new iPad as a “blockbuster.”

Last week’s iPad launch had all the makings of a record-setter before a single tablet arrived on retail shelves. A week ago, Apple said it had sold out of pre-order shipments, adding that “customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts.”

At least one of Apple’s partners also suggested stellar iPad sales for the launch of the new tablet. An AT&T rep tweeted on Monday that the carrier “set a new single-day record for its iPad sales and activations.” AT&T is one of two carriers of the U.S. that provides cellular service for the 4G-equipped iPad; the other is Verizon Wireless.

The third-generation iPad went on sale in 10 countries on Friday. In addition to the U.S., the iPad is now selling in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, and the UK. The tablet goes on sale in 25 more countries this Friday, including 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.

Updated at 9:38 a.m. PT to include a comment from an AT&T representative.
Updated at 1:47 p.m. PT with Apple’s statement on weekend iPad sales.

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