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iPad Sold Out at Best Buy, Sales May Top 600,000

The Apple iPad was expected to rack up significant sales at launch, in part due to Apple fulfilling pre-orders from fans and enthusiasts. But pre-orders aren’t a real measure of consumer demand; a better measure is usually consumers’ feet in stores. And apparently the iPad has been doing well there too: numerous outlets are reporting that electronics retailersBest Buy is sold out of the iPad at all of its 650+ retail locations in the United States, although the chain is expecting to have more inventory available April 11.

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Apple’s own retail stores seem to have been able to keep up with the onslaught of interest in the iPad, with few reports of stores running out and no reports of sustained shortages.

It’s fair to wonder whether Best Buy’s lack of iPad has more to do with the logistics of running a retail channel than consumer demand: Best Buy only came on board as a retail partner for the iPad days before the devices were scheduled to begin landing in consumer’s hands. However, some industry watchers have speculated that Apple’s brief postponement of the iPad launch from late March to early April may have been, in part, a chance to get Best Buy into the retail distribution.

So far, Apple has claimed to have sold 300,000 iPads on the device’s first day of availability—and many of those were pre-orders, of course. Now advertising firm Chitika thinks it may have come up with a good way to estimate the number of iPads sold by looking at how many iPads load advertisements from its ad network. The estimate right now is pushing 620,000—and you can check their Web site to see their latest running total. Of course, the analysis requires that Chitika be able to identify individual iPads successful, and doesn’t get fooled into thinking an iPad is “new” the next time it sees it—say, perhaps, if it’s browser cookies have been cleared. Similarly, the technique only works for iPads that load ads from Chitika…if users aren’t fortunate enough to surf to a Chitika-served site—or aren’t surfing the net at all—they wont’ turn up in Chitika’s estimate.

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