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Apple just announced a record launch for the new iPad, with sales of more than 3 million units since the launch of the device on Friday morning.

As noted by the New York Times, that’s about three times better than the iPad 2’s first weekend, based on analysts’ estimates at the time. Apple didn’t provide first-weekend sales figures for that launch a year ago.

In the news release announcing the result for the new iPad, Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller called it the “strongest iPad launch yet.”

The announcement caps a big day for Apple, following the news this morning that the company will start issuing a quarterly dividend of $2.65/share later this year as part of a plan to reduce its cash balance and return value to shareholders.

Apple stock closed at more than $601/share (up 2.65 percent) — just a little more than the price of a new, 32GB wifi-only iPad.

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