Apple sells 3 million iPads in first 80 days

Apple Inc. has sold more than 3 million iPads just 80 days after the tablet computer’s launch in the United States.

The touch-screen iPad blew past analysts’ expectations even in its first month when it sold 1 million, and Monday’s 3-million mark signaled that it was not losing any steam.

“People are loving iPad as it becomes a part of their daily lives,” Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in a statement. “We’re working hard to get this magical product into the hands of even more people around the world, including those in nine more countries next month.”

The news came as the prices of iPad’s e-reader competitors — Inc.'s Kindle and Barnes & Noble Inc.'s Nook — were slashed Monday to under $200. The iPad starts at $499.

But it seems price isn’t an issue when it comes to some of the hottest, and coolest, pieces of technology on the market, said Richard Doherty, analyst at Envisioneering Group.

“It’s fashionable and it’s ‘in’ and it’s less geeky than a keyboard,” he said. “It’s the new definition of ‘it.’ ”

Doherty said that at this rate he expected iPad sales to far surpass his original prediction of 5 million to 8 million within a year. And if there’s anyone who has returned an iPad, he’d like to meet them, he said.

According to Reuters, the iPad also is sold in Canada, Japan, Australia, Italy, France and Germany.