Market Overview

Apple's iPad Air Sales Exceed Expectations by 30%

Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) has yet to announce the first weekend sales of the iPad Air, indicating that it may not have set a new sales record.

However, that in no way means the device is selling poorly.

Global Equities Research analyst Trip Chowdhry surveyed seven Apple Stores across California, Washington and Illinois (specifically Chicago). At all of those stores, the iPad Air exceeded sales expectations by 30 percent.

Chowdhry found that larger Wi-Fi models reigned supreme, with the Wi-Fi-only iPad Air beating the cellular version five to one.

When choosing a Wi-Fi model, consumers tended to prefer the 64GB model, followed by the 32GB iteration.

However, those who chose a cellular model -- from AT&T (NYSE: T), Verizon (NYSE: VZ), Sprint (NYSE: S) or T-Mobile (NYSE: TMUS) -- tended to purchase the 32GB or 16GB iteration.

"I think people are very sensitive on pricing," Chowdhry told Benzinga.

Compare, for instance, the price of the 64GB Wi-Fi iPad Air ($699) to the 32GB cellular model ($729). If $700 is the sweet spot for iPad customers, this would explain why they are settling for a smaller hard drive when purchasing a cellular model.

Related: iPad Air: Hands-On With The Best iPad Yet

That said, the 128GB cellular version does seem to be performing very well on T-Mobile and AT&T. Shipping times have dropped from "within 24 hours" to "five to 10 days" on Apple.com. All other iPad models -- including 128GB Wi-Fi-only iPads, and 128GB iPad Airs for Sprint and Verizon -- ship within 24 hours.

iPad Air Leads Surface 2 In Store Traffic

While Chowdhry's findings are encouraging for Apple, he also surveyed a few nearby stores from Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

"The Microsoft Stores [next to the Apple Stores] were totally empty," said Chowdhry.

Further proof, perhaps, that product reigns supreme.

The opposite will occur in a few weeks, when Microsoft releases the Xbox One. At that time, Apple Stores won't have a line of customers waiting outside of them. But there will be dozens (if not hundreds) of customers lining up in front of Microsoft Stores across the country.

Large crowds are also expected to form at Best Buy (NYSE: BBY), Target (NYSE: TGT) and GameStop (NYSE: GME).

Disclosure: At the time of this writing, Louis Bedigian had no position in the equities mentioned in this report.

Louis Bedigian is the Senior Tech Analyst and Features Writer of Benzinga. You can reach him at louis(at)benzingapro(dot)com. Follow him @LouisBedigianBZ

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