iPad sells two million units, but here come the competitors

The Apple iPad has sold over two million units in just two months, according to sales figures released by the company, netting the tech giant at least $US1.2 billion in revenue with demand still running high.

But competitors are already attempting to capitalise on the company’s success, with AsusTek unveiling a rival device to challenge Apple’s early dominance in the tablet computing sector.

Apple said in a statement the iPad has sold over two million units in several countries including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Switzerland and Britain, with even more international launches to occur in July.

The company also said over one million units have been sold in the US alone, with 12 million apps and 1.5 million ebooks sold through the App and iBooks stores. Already about 5,000 dedicated iPad apps are available for sale, created by third-party developers.

“Customers around the world are experiencing the magic of iPad, and seem to be loving it as much as we do,” chief executive Steve Jobs said in a typically hyperbolic statement. “We appreciate their patience, and are working hard to build enough iPads for everyone.”

Jobs refers to the increased international demand for the iPad, with several retailers now completely out of stock. JB Hi-Fi chief executive Terry Smart says the company’s stores are running low, with some Apple retail locations reportedly running out of 3G-capable models.

Demand is running high even outside capital cities, with one reseller in Tasmania telling The Australian that customers were lining up outside his store on launch day, last Friday.

But competitors are already trying to steal some of the spotlight.

Taiwan-based AsusTek announced its own tablet device overnight, with the Eee Tablet to be marketed as a more powerful rival to the iPad.

The company said the gadget will run on Windows 7, and can be used as a multimedia player, eReader, web-browser or an actual laptop replacement with the addition of a keyboard.

Two versions of the gadget will be released, one with a 10-inch screen and a 12-inch model, both versions with at least 10 hours of battery life, according to the company.

Chief executive Jerry Shen unveiled the gadget at the Computex conference, but a release date and any pricing details are yet to be announced. However, Shen said the gadget will attempt to take on Apple by including full Flash support.

Additionally, chairman Jonney Shih said at the conference the computer will include features not included on the iPad, such as USB connectivity.

“The Eee Pad can display Adobe Flash for the full web experience, has a USB port and a camera,” he said. “We looked at how we could best address the needs of users from all walks of life, and I believe this is the product.”

The company said the Eee Pad will hopefully bridge the gap between enterprise and consumer electronics. The release comes as several research firms, including Ovum and IDC, have predicted shipments of tablet computers will increase over the next two years as more manufacturers attempt to control the relatively new market.

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