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Monday, April 05, 2010, 05:35 am PT (08:35 am ET)

Apple sells more than 300,000 iPads on launch day

Apple on Monday announced that it sold over 300,000 iPads in the U.S. on its first day of availability, including preorders shipped directly to customers, and purchases at Apple retail stores and Best Buy outlets.

"It feels great to have the iPad launched into the world — it's going to be a game changer," Apple CEO Steve Jobs said. "iPad users, on average, downloaded more than three apps and close to one book within hours of unpacking their new iPad."

Apple also revealed that more than a million applications were downloaded from the App Store for the iPad. Apple's iBookstore saw over 250,000 books downloaded on the first day alone.

The first-day sales are lower than what some analysts had projected. Gene Munster with Piper Jaffray increased his forecast to between 600,000 and 700,000 after noting healthy supply after surveying a number of Apple retail stores.

Brian Marshall with Broadpoint AmTech also overestimated, predicting sales of 525,000 units over the launch weekend. The most accurate among analysts was Charlie Wolf with Needham & Company, who said he expected over 300,000 sales.

The sales totals also debunk early projections from enthusiastic onlookers who believed they had reverse engineered Apple's order numbering system. Users on the AAPL Sanity Board at Investor Village claimed Apple sold 120,000 units in the first day of preorders, and projected a half-million preorders initially, with a million iPads sold after its first two weeks.

Apple's initial sales represent the U.S. only, and just the Wi-Fi model. The 3G-capable iPad will go on sale in the U.S. later this month, and both models will be available overseas in late April as well.