Cook: Apple enjoyed 'record weekend' of iPad sales

Three million new iPad's sold already

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.

A record weekend for new iPad sales would certainly be an impressive mark. While Apple never gave a statement on how many iPad 2 models it sold during the opening weekend of 2011, the company did do a brisk business, with estimates at the time ranging between 400,000 and 600,000 units for the weekend. Ultimately, Apple sold more than 32 million iPads during its 2011 fiscal year.

We already know that shoppers rushed to buy the latest iPad when Apple opened up pre-orders early this month. Last week, Apple said it had sold out of pre-order shipments, adding that “customer response to the new iPad has been off the charts.”

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.

Should Apple expand on Cook’s statement later Monday, we’ll update this story with opening weekend sales figures for the new iPad.

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