updated 06:50 pm EDT, Tue July 19, 2011
Record-breaking shift took only five quarters
In a revelation Apple COO Tim Cook himself described as "absolutely shocking," the iPad has surpassed the Mac in terms of popularity in the K-12 education market, despite the former still being a very new product -- only available for the past five quarters. Cook commented that education, like enterprise, is traditionally a conservative market resistant to changes -- but that the adoption rate for the iPad in both had surprised the company.
The K-12 segment has leapt on tools like the iPad not just because of its lower cost, but also due to its more child-friendly nature and strong catalog of learning and e-reading applications. The company also said that a overwhelming majority of the Fortune 500 -- greater than 90 percent -- had already deployed or were testing the iPad as a tool for enterprise. Cook pointed out that the surprising acceptance of iPads into both business and education markets -- not to mention its popularity with the general public -- points to a "universal appeal" that its rivals haven't matched.
Apple reported that it sold 9.25 million iPads in the third quarter, up almost three times the same period a year ago, and an astonishing doubling of sales from the previous quarter (helped by the introduction of the iPad 2 in March). iPads outsell Macs generally by a margin of almost 2.5-to-1, with the iPad generating more revenue than all Mac models combined. Cook admitted during the Q3 analysts' call that the iPad was causing "some" cannibalization of Mac sales, but reiterated the company's view that the iPad sales hurt the low-end PC netbook and notebook markets much more.
Mac sales were up 14 percent year-over-year to nearly 4M units, but only five percent sequentially, despite refreshed iMacs and MacBook Pros being introduced in the quarter. Updated Mac minis and MacBook Airs, expected to happen this week, along with some rumored other updates, may continue to grow Mac sales during the traditionally slower fiscal fourth quarter, when ends September 30th.