Three Million New iPads Sold Over Launch Weekend

Apple's New iPad. ABC News

We now have an idea of what Apple meant when they said the demand for the new iPad was "off the charts."

The company has just revealed it sold three million iPads since they went on sale on Friday morning, March 16. That number includes online pre-orders, which people have been able to place starting when the new iPad was announced March 7.

This marks the biggest launch weekend for any version of the iPad ever. One million iPad 2s were sold in the first week of its availability, and it took 28 days for the original iPad to hit the one million mark in 2010.  AT&T also set a new single-day record for iPad sales and activations on March 16.

The new iPad, which starts at $499, has a high-resolution Retina display, an improved 5-megapixel iSight camera, a faster A5x processor, and 4G LTE options. Check out our review of the new iPad here.

The rest of the tablet makers have seen a minor fraction of that sort of success. It is estimated that Amazon sold 4.7 million of its Kindle Fires in the entire fourth quarter of 2011, and analysts say RIM sold 500,000 of its BlackBerry Playbook tablets in their first quarter on the market. Samsung and Motorola haven't released numbers on sales of their respective tablets.

Earlier today Apple announced that it would begin paying shareholders  billions of dollars in dividends, signaling a big change from the Steve Jobs Era of management. Still, despite the loss of its iconic CEO, Apple seems to be in a better place than ever - three million tablets in just under four days is about to put even more cash in Apple's estimated $98 billion piggy bank.