Apple's new iPad could help solidify its position against other tablets in the marketplace, according to a new analyst report.
"We believe Apple will maintain its dominant market share of the fast-growing tablet market despite increased competition," T. Michael Walkley, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity, wrote in a March 8 research note. "We believe the new iPad has raised the bar relative to competing tablets with impressive hardware specifications, competitive pricing, and the leading software ecosystem."
Apple is apparently helped by Android manufacturers' increased focus on smartphones over tablets. "While Android tablets were a primary focus at last year's [Mobile World Congress]," he added, "most Android OEMs offered tablets but focused our MWC meetings on new smartphone offerings. With the iPad launch, we believe Apple has extended its leadership position in the fast-growing tablet market."
Apple's new iPad includes a high-resolution "Retina Display," a new A5X processor with quad-core graphics and a 5-megapixel rear camera capable of shooting 1080p video. It weighs slightly more than the iPad 2, at 1.4 pounds, and offers comparable battery life. Those in the United States will have the option of purchasing the new iPad with 4G LTE connectivity on either Verizon or AT&T.
The new iPad will keep the same prices as the previous model, starting at $499 for WiFi only versions and $629 for those with 4G capability. Prices top out at $699 for the WiFi-only, 64GB model and $829 for the 64GB model with WiFi and 4G.
Apple also dropped the price of the iPad 2, with the 16GB, WiFi-only version starting at $399. In doing so, it replicates the strategy it started with the iPhone, where the prices of the previous version fall with the introduction of a new unit. It could also help further spur iPad adoption.
Other analysts believe the new iPad's features will help it in the battle against Android.
"Given the 8" Kindle Fire ($199) and several lower-priced 10" Android Tablets," Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in a March 7 research note, "we see the price reduction of the iPad 2, and the lower entry-level price for the iPad family, as a strong defensive move from Apple." Nor does he see the iPad 2 price reduction as negatively impacting sales of the new iPad: "Rather, it expands Apple's addressable market in the rapidly growing tablet space."