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Apple touts 'record weekend' of iPad sales

Apple today said sales of the new iPad over the weekend set a record, and not surprisingly, that it is pleased with the tablet's debut.

AT&T, one of two U.S. carriers that kicked off sales last Friday, also announced it had done record business over the weekend.

"We had a record weekend, and we're thrilled with it," said Apple's CEO Tim Cook during a conference call earlier Monday to discuss a $45 billion dividend and stock repurchasing programs.

Cook did not put a number to iPad sales.

It was impossible to quantify what Cook called a "record weekend," since Apple stayed mum last year about opening weekend sales of the iPad 2. The only time Apple has boasted about early tablet sales was in April 2010, when it said it had sold 300,000 first-generation iPads on the first day of availability. The 300,000 had included several weeks of online pre-orders.

AT&T also touted iPad sales today.

"On Friday, March 16, AT&T set a new single-day record for its iPad sales and activations," the carrier said in a Monday statement.

The new iPad was Apple's first to support the faster LTE networks that AT&T and Verizon have deployed in the U.S.

Analysts expect Apple will sell fewer iPads this quarter than 2011's fourth-quarter record of 15.4 million, but more than the same period a year ago.

Brian Marshall of International Strategy & Investment Group (ISI), for example, has set his iPad target at 11.25 million for this quarter, or a 140% increase over the first quarter of 2011, when Apple sold 4.7 million tablets, including a smattering of the then-new iPad 2.

Shipping delays for the new iPad remain at two to three weeks, an interval that first showed up on Apple's online store March 11, just days after the company started taking pre-orders.