Michelle Clancy ©RapidTVNews | 21-07-2011

iPad accounted for a full $6 billion in revenue in Apple's fiscal third quarter, compared to Mac sales of $5 billion.

That means that iPad has zoomed into the No. 2 place in the company's stable, behind the iPhone, which sold 20 million units and accounted for almost half of its $28 billion in revenue. Not too shabby for a product that has been on the market for only 15 months.

Apple sold 9.25 million iPads in its fiscal third quarter, representing a healthy 183 percent unit increase year over year. Sales of Macs and iPods--previously the company's bread-and-butter--fell below analysts' estimates. Apple sold only 3.95 million Macs (a mere 14% increase) and 7.54 million iPods (a 20% unit decline compared to the year ago quarter).

"We expect it will become the largest market cap company on the planet," Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall wrote in a July 20 research note. "Its business model is becoming stronger over time as well as the company benefits from an increasing richness of its revenue mix."

It's a big story that brings to fruition Steve Jobs' now-famous proclamation that we are entering a 'post-PC era' in which the desktop computer's days are numbered.

Apple COO Tim Cook admitted that iPad was canibalising Mac sales in some cases."Some customers chose to purchase an iPad instead of a new Mac during the quarter," he said on the earnings call. "But even more customers chose to buy an iPad over a Windows PC … there’s a lot more of the PC Windows business to cannibalise than the Mac."

iPad will continue to be a success story, Cook intimated. He said that 86% of the Fortune 500 is considering or has deployed the tablet. "To be this far into the enterprise with a product that’s only been shipping for 15 months is incredible because the enterprise is traditionally much more conservative," he noted.

Overall, Apple beat Wall Street expectations again, posting record quarterly revenues and earnings. In its fiscal 2011 third quarter ending June 25, the House of Jobs brought home net income of $7.31 billion, on revenues of $28.57 billion.

"Apple proved once again why it is the best run company in the world," gushed Steve Reitmeister, executive vice president of Zachs Investment Research, in a newsletter. "They served up a 34% earnings beat on 15% higher revenue. That means that analysts undercounted revenue by a whopping $3.6 billion. This is yet another in a string of earth shattering beats for AAPL."

Wall Street was only expecting Apple to sell 17 million iPhones and 8 million iPads, according to Jeffries equity analyst Peter Misek.

Apple forecasts revenues of $25 billion for its fourth fiscal quarter.