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It seems like a distant memory now, but there was plenty of doubt in the lead up to the release of Apple’s iPad. How would a salesman–even one on the level of a Steve Jobs–manage to succeed where so many PC manufacturers had failed, convincing the public that it need a tablet?

Jobs’s “third screen” pitch seemed convincing enough, but would it really move a lot of people to drop hundreds of dollars in the middle of a recession on a device they didn’t even know they “needed” a few months before? It seemed like a long shot, to say the least.

And now, here we are, three-quarters of a year since the device was announced, and the iPad has surpassed the DVD player and the iPhone, in terms of adoption speed. More than three million tablets have been sold in its first 80 days. The iPad is on track to sell 4.5 million in its first quarter of sale.

That, as it turns out, is much, much faster than one million iPhones sold in the first quarter of that product’s launch and the 350,000 DVD players sold in the first year of the device’s existence.

Of course the three spaces aren’t quite comparable. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration–first there’s the fact that the smartphone space was already somewhat established when the iPhone came along, meaning that while it perhaps a slightly less difficult sell than the ostensibly brand new tablet space, there were already well established players like Palm, RIM, and Microsoft duking it out. Also, there’s the pesky fact that the iPhone is only available on AT&T.

And, in a way, the iPhone really cleared the way for the existence of the iPad, establishing Apple in the mobile space, introducing iOS, and helping stock the App Store.

The DVD player, on the other hand, had one giant opponent: the VCR. People are understandable wary of format changes. Look at all of the dusty Laserdisc and Betamax players doting thrift store shelves.

Still, even with all of that in mind, the iPad’s numbers are rather impressive–especially in light of the criticism and doubt that surrounded the device’s launch.


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