Despite lengthening shipment times for a new iPad with a high-resolution Retina Displaywhich now stand at two to three weekssome analysts believe Apple will have relatively little trouble fulfilling orders for the new tablet in the months ahead.
"Despite widespread concerns, we believe there will be enough screens for the new iPads," Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a co-authored March 13 research note. "We believe that builds of 12 [million] to 15 [million] for iPads in [the first calendar quarter] look reasonable, and our checks indicate that Apple is attempting to boost builds for [the second calendar quarter] from 15-18 [million] to 18-20 [million]."
Meanwhile, that prodigious manufacturing pace will drive the worldwide demand for NAND flash memory in media tablets, according to another research note by IHS. The firm predicts that Apple will account for 58 percent of tablet NAND purchasing by 2015.
"Apple's continued domination of the sales of NAND flash for media tablets reflects not only the iPad's commanding market share lead, but its extensive memory usage," Dee Nguyen, memory analyst at IHS, wrote in the March 13 note. "The iPad employs a larger density of NAND than its competitors. Because of this, Apple's iPad will continue to drive the growth of NAND sales in the tablet market for the next several years."
Apple's new iPad includes the aforementioned Retina Display, backed by 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 Long-Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity on either Verizon or AT&T.
In a move that maintains pressure on its competitors, 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.
Whatever the new iPad's longer-term prospects, analysts have predicted the device will sell as many as 1 million units on March 16, its first day of release.
"We expect Apple to sell more than [1 million] iPads on 3/16, the day the new iPad hits retail stores," Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray, wrote in a March 12 research note. "While the sell-through number is impossible to predict given uncertain iPad supply levels, sales of over [1 million] iPads on launch day would be a slight positive relative to the Street consensus at 10.1 [million] iPads in the Mar-12 quarter."