How many iPads has Apple really sold?

A preview of what analysts expect from the company’s fourth quarter earnings report

Analyst, affiliationiPads (million)Date of est.
Robert Paul Leitao, Apple Finance Board6.0010/1/10
Nicolae Mihalache, Traderhood5.9510/1/10
Jeff Fosberg, Apple Finance Board5.909/30/10
Daniel Tello, Deagol’s AAPL Model5.839/29/10
Rajesh Ghai, Think Equity5.7510/5/10
Shaw Wu, Kaufman Bros.5.709/20/10
Tavis McCourt, Morgan Keegan5.5010/4/10
Doug Reid, Stifel Nicholaus5.429/30/10
Dennis Hildebrand, Apple’s Gold5.239/28/10
Robert Cihra, Caris & Co.5.109/23/10
Horace Dediu, Asymco5.009/28/10
Alexis Cabot, Apple Finance Board5.0010/1/10
Andy Zaky, Bullish Cross5.009/29/10
Jeff Fidacaro, Susquehanna4.759/22/10
William Fearnley, Janney Capital4.608/25/10
Colin McGranahan, Bernstein4.5010/4/10
T. Michael Walkley, Canaccord Genuity4.509/27/10
Ben Reitzes, Barclays Capital4.329/29/10
Chris Whitmore, Deutsche Bank4.0010/4/10
Yair Reiner, Oppenheimer3.909/29/10
Matthew Hoffman, Cowen & Co.3.809/14/10
Brian Marshall, Gleacher & Co.3.809/28/10

Sources: Company reports and the consensus estimate for Q4

Bernstein Research retail analyst Colin McGranahan created a bit of a stir Monday when he told CNBC John Malloy that the iPad’s adoption rate out of the starting gate was the “fastest ever” — having surpassed both the original iPhone in 2007 and the DVD player in 1997.

McGranahan’s claim is based on his estimate that Apple sold 4.5 million iPads in the quarter that just ended — an estimate that might seem high but is actually below average for the analysts who track Apple (AAPL).

So how many iPads has Apple sold so far? The consensus is roughly 8.25 million units.

We know that the company sold 3.27 million in Q3. The estimates for Q4 we’ve gathered in advance of the company’s Oct. 18 earnings report range from a low of 3.8 million from an uncharacteristically conservative Brian Marshall at Gleacher & Co. to a high of 6 million from the Apple Finance Board’s Robert Paul Leitao, one of the amateur analysts whose estimates have proved in the past considerably more dependable than the professionals’.

Below: the numbers we’ve collected so far. We’ll update the list as more come in.

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See also:

[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]

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