The iPad mini could comprise half of all iPads sold in December

iPad mini launch (Fifth Avenue store 002)Apple will sell 20.2 million iPads during the December financial quarter – half of them iPad minis, one Wall Street analyst predicts. The forecast comes as experts attempt to divine the meaning of Apple’s record three million tablets sold over the past weekend.

Despite a Northeast US battered and bruised by Hurricane Sandy, Apple announced it sold three million new iPads this weekend, breaking a record of 1.5 million Wi-Fi-only units moved during the iPad 3 opening weekend in March. Analysts believe a large portion of new iPads sold this weekend were various iPad mini models…

“We believe  a majority of the three million iPads sold this weekend were likely minis and remain,” analyst Maynard Um told investors. The statement was echoed by high-profile Apple watcher Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, via Fortune.

We believe 2-2.5 million iPads sold this past weekend were iPad minis Nine out of every 10 consumers waiting in line for an iPad were purchasing a mini.

That trend toward the mini should carry into the all-important holiday season. Um expects “roughly half” of the iPads sold during the December financial quarter will be minis.

As a result, “we see demand continuing to outstrip supply”. That concern was repeated elsewhere along the Street, such as Barclay’s Ben Reitzes.

“We believe Apple is facing significant constraints”, Reitzes told investors. The strong demand for the iPad mini surprised many on Wall Street, including Topeka’s Brian White, who’s analysis was entitled ‘Mini Mania’.

White had expected between 800,000 to 1 million iPad minis would sell this weekend. “The iPad mini surpassed our expectation” , White wrote. His checks found 60 percent of US Apple Stores had mostly the 64GB iPad available.

The US online Apple store currently shows a three-week wait for iPad mini orders and 3-5 days for the retooled fourth-generation model of the full-sized iPad.

So, this weekend’s iPad mini sales introduction was a double-edged sword for Apple.

While reinvigorating support for the company’s decision to introduce another product, dispelling concerns about the recent corporate shakeup, the strong showing of the iPad mini also gave new life to worries that Apple won’t be able to meet consumer demand.

This is the risk of becoming hugely successful.

Where in the past, a corporate shuffle might be of brief interest and a question of product timing might draw questions from a corner of the financial world, Apple is so hyper-exposed that any move is magnified and potentially overshadows actual accomplishments.

What do you think?

Has Apple become the tech equivalent of Lindsay Lohan: not able to move without making headlines?