Nobody Predicted The iPad's Growth. Nobody.

Apple sold almost 15 million iPads last year.  It is outselling Macs in units, and closing in on revenues.  The 7.3 million iPads sold just in the December quarter represented a 75 percent increase from the September quarter, and the $4.6 billion in revenue represented a 65 percent sequential jump. (The iPad launched in April).  By any measure, this is an incredible ramp for an entirely new computing product.  It is so startling that nobody predicted it—not bullish Wall Street analysts, or even wild-eyed bloggers.

A post on Asymco tallies all the early predictions of iPad unit sales from both Wall Street analysts and tech bloggers. The iPAd ended up selling 14.8 million units in 2010.  The highest Wall Street estimate from April was 7 million (Brian Marshall of Broadpoint AmTech).  David Bailey at Goldman Sachs predicted 6.2 million.  Even Apple table-pounder Gene Munster initially thought they would sell only 3.5 million iPads. The average prediction among the 14 analysts listed was 3.3 million.

Tech bloggers did a little better.  Fox anchor Clayton Morris (is he a blogger?) predicted 9 million, followed by John Gruber who predicted 8 million.  The average among the 8 bloggers listed was 5.5 million.

In other words, the iPad sold three times as much as the average tech blogger predictions, and five times as much as the average Wall Street analyst prediction. Think about that the next time you see a prediction for anything in tech. The newer it is, the less anybody knows.

Here is the breakdown from Asymco:

Professional analysts’ first year iPad unit forecasts (sourced from TMO Finance Board)

  • Brian Marshall, Broadpoint AmTech   7.0
  • David Bailey, Goldman Sachs           6.2
  • Kathryn Huberty, Morgan Stanley     6.0
  • Shaw Wu, Kauffman Bros.              5.0
  • Mike Abramsky, RBC Capital Markets   5.0
  • Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray           3.5
  • Ben Reitzes, Barclays Capital           2.9
  • Keith Bachman, BMO Capital         2.5
  • Jeff Fidacaro, Susquehanna           2.1
  • Chris Whitmore, Deutsche Bank       2.0
  • Scott Craig, Merrill Lynch               1.2
  • Peter Misek, Canaccord Adams       1.2
  • Doug Reid, Thomas Weisel             1.1
  • Yair Reiner, Oppenheimer             1.1

Here are the predictions from Tech Bloggers:

  • Clayton Morris: 9
  • John Gruber: 8
  • Horace Dediu: 6
  • Natali Del Conte: 5
  • Ross Rubin: 5
  • Mike Rose: 4.5-5
  • Jason Snell: 3
  • Andy Ihnatko: 3