Apple Inc sold 3 million of its new iPads in the first three days the tablet computers were available, driving optimism for a strong holiday quarter despite intensifying competition.

Sales of the 7.9-inch iPad mini and fourth-generation 9.7-inch version, both Wi-Fi only models, were double the first-weekend sales of the Wi-Fi iPad sold in March, Apple said on Monday.

Apple did not break out numbers for the crucial iPad mini, a smaller version of the original tablet designed to spearhead its foray into a segment now dominated by Inc and Google Inc.

Analysts estimate that about 2.3 million of the new iPads sold over the weekend were the mini-tablets, surpassing expectations of 1 million to 1.5 million.

Wall Street, which was disappointed with Apple's latest quarterly earnings, had been looking to the iPad mini to boost demand during the crucial year-end holiday shopping season as competition reaches a fever pitch. Microsoft Corp became the latest major entrant to the market last month with the Windows-driven Surface.

While lines for the new iPads appeared lighter than usual when they began selling at stores on Friday, the company said demand was so strong that it "practically sold out of iPad minis."

Yahoo News