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Thursday, March 18, 2010, 12:50 pm PT (03:50 pm ET)

Apple has pre-sold "hundreds of thousands" of iPads

Apple is on pace to potentially sell more iPads in its first three months than it sold iPhones in the three months after the touch-screen handset made its debut back in 2007, people familiar with the company's running sales totals say.

Since going on sale for pre-order last Friday morning, customers have purchased "hundreds of thousands of the device," those same people told The Wall Street Journal. By comparison, Apple sold roughly 1.2 million iPhones in the three months following its June 29, 2007 launch.

Meanwhile, the newspaper claims that Apple is 'racing' to tie up a broad number of content licensing deals before the iPad officially hits the market in under three weeks. In particular, the company is trying to convince television networks to drop the price of TV shows that users would downloaded directly to the device.

These efforts and others have reportedly seen the Cupertino-based company temporarily reduce its emphasis on working with newspaper, magazines and textbook publishers on new ways to display their digital content.

"But nailing down the content has proven difficult as some potential collaborators weigh the advantages of working with Apple against the potential threats to their current sources of revenue," the Journal said, citing people familiar with the situation.

The report appears to corroborate an independent analysis performed by an online Apple investor community, which estimated that 120,000 iPads were sold on the first day alone, with orders then settling at a pace of roughly 30,000 per day.