Apple could ship between 8 million and 10 million iPads in 2010, according to a Morgan Stanley analyst's research note, and sell in the neighborhood of 3 million to 4 million within its first year of release. Apple competitors who take stock in the report may be concerned by its assertion that the iPad, although a tablet PC, will aggressively occupy a portion of the $800-and-under notebook market.
The WiFi-only version of the iPad is due to be released on April 3, although online reports indicate that preorders have already begun shipping. The version with both WiFi and 3G enabled will reach store shelves later in April.
The 16GB version of the iPad sells for $499 with WiFi and $629 with WiFi and 3G. The 32GB version costs $599 with WiFi and $729 with WiFi and 3G, while the 64GB version costs $699 with WiFi and $829 with WiFi and 3G. Apple has imposed an order limit of two per customer.
"Near-term, we believe the iPad will target the sizable sub-$800 consumer notebook market, which equates to 30 million units in the U.S. and 120 million units globally," analyst Katy Huberty wrote. That "momentum" could potentially be strengthened by the introduction of content such as TV shows, ebooks and periodicals optimized for use on the device.
That optimistic projection seems to correlate with reports from the developer side, with analytics firm Flurry reporting a 185 percent uptick in the number of new application starts for the iPhone OS in the past few weeks. Apple has been promoting the new iPhone SDK 3.2 beta to developers as the ideal platform for creating mobile apps for the iPad.
"Over six weeks since Apple announced the iPad, Flurry continues to measure a significant increase in iPhone OS new application starts within the system," Peter Farago, vice president of marketing for Flurry, wrote in a March 15 posting on the firm's official blog. "We continue to attribute this growth to excitement generated by the impending launch of iPad. ... A large portion of the applications we are seeing are custom versions of existing applications tailored for the iPad."
Apple claims that some 150,000 apps will be available upon the iPad's launch. The company's App Store could hold as many as 300,000 apps by the end of the year, according to research firm IDC.
Apple may have sold some 120,000 iPads on March 12, the first day that the company opened its Website to preorders, according to blogger and analyst Daniel Tello. However, Tello projected that iPad pre-sales would inevitably level off in the days before the device's release; according to the work that Tello did in conjunction with Investor Village's AAPL Sanity Forum, some 69 percent of customers chose the WiFi-only version of the device. Estimated sales also seemed almost evenly split between the different versions of the iPad, with 33 percent preferring the 16GB edition, 32 percent selecting the 32GB and 22 percent choosing the 64GB.
According to Huberty, Apple could sell around 6 million iPads this year, a number well above Wall Street projections of 3 million to 4 million units.