Why Reports of the iPad's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Apple's (AAPL) fiscal third-quarter financial results were bright overall.

Earnings beat expectations, although the iPhone numbers were slightly below estimates and Apple's revenue projection for its fiscal fourth quarter ending in September was below analysts' forecasts.

Shares of Apple were up 2% in Wednesday morning trading as observers are still excited about the company's products to be rolled out during the fall.

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One weak point in the earnings release stood out, however -- the disappointing iPad numbers. Apple sold 13.3 million iPads during the quarter, which was the lowest level in more than two years.

On the post-earnings conference call, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that, "while iPad met our expectations, we realize that they didn't meet many of yours."

You only have to look at a chart of iPads and iPhones sold over time to conclude that iPads have not only flattened out, but they appear to be in decline.

So there were many on Twitter last night, singing a requiem for the iPad.

One conclusion appears to be that because iPads haven't tracked the success in volume of iPhones, that the product is a failure.

That appears to be a premature conclusion. Here's why.

When iPad was launched in 2010, it was immediately dismissed. Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt called it nothing more than a large iPhone. Others discussed how Microsoft (MSFT) had already tried to promote a tablet and how it had failed.

The critics were wrong. The iPad is now a multi-billion-dollar franchise for Apple with an astonishing number of iPad-unique applications.

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