NEW YORK: Apple's iPad 2, the latest version of the company's pioneering tablet, appears to have sold out on the first day following its US launch, new figures suggest.

Piper Jaffray, the investment bank and securities specialist, surveyed 236 people waiting to purchase an iPad 2, and also visited retailers such as Target, Best Buy and Apple's store network to assess current availability.

It estimated that between 400,000 and 500,000 units of the improved device were snapped up during its opening weekend, measured against 300,000 for the original product, introduced in April 2010.

Moreover, nearly all of the second-generation appliances were obtained in one day, as inventory apparently almost entirely ran out on Saturday, March 11.

Some 30% of individuals interested in buying the most recent addition to Apple's portfolio were picking up the 64GB iPad 2, 41% wanted a 32GB equivalent, and 30% preferred the more basic 16GB model.

More specifically, 47% stated a preference for the 3G and WiFi, meaning 53% had chosen the WiFi-only iPad.

Perhaps the statistic holding greatest importance for Apple was that 70% of people acquiring an iPad 2 had not bought the first version of the firm's slate.

"We believe this shows Apple is expanding its base of iPad users, which is critical to maintaining its early lead in the growing tablet market," Gene Munster, a senior analyst at Piper Jaffray, told Fortune.

"As the user base grows Apple's lead widens, and the company has a proven track record of building unmatched brand loyalty, which we believe will be a potent combination as the tablet market evolves."

Overall, 38% of the panel mainly intended to access the iPad 2 for surfing the net, 22% cited sending and receiving email, 14% wanted to watch video, 17% emphasised gaming, and 6% would employ it as an e-reader.

Elsewhere, 51% of this group had previously purchased a Mac and 49% possessed another form of personal computer.

However, a limited 3% minority expected the iPad 2 to replace these machines, while 97% anticipated utilising both channels.

Exactly 80% of the sample owned an iPod, standing at 65% concerning the iPhone, and 24% regarding Amazon's Kindle e-reader.

Deutsche Bank also called 100 retailers, including 50 outlets operated by Apple, 20 apiece by Best Buy and Wal-Mart, and the remainder belonging to AT&T or Verizon.

Chris Whitmore, a Deutsche Bank analyst, argued that Apple had set a new benchmark, even compared with the organisation's high standards.

"Our checks pointed to a shocking 100% stock out rate across Apple/authorised retail stores just a few hours into the official launch Friday evening, contributing to what we believe was one of the company's most successful product launches to date," he said.

Data sourced from Fortune; additional content by Warc staff