Apple Could Sell 66 Million iPads in 2012: Analyst

Apple could sell more than 66 million iPads in 2012, according to one analyst. That would allow the iPad to continue to dominate the tablet market.

Apple could sell 66 million iPads this year, buoyed by strong interest in its newest version, according to Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray.

€œDue to the strong launch, we are raising our [calendar year 2012] iPad estimates from 60 [million] to 66 [million],€ Munster wrote in a March 20 research note. €œWe believe the unprecedented ramp of the iPad over the past year is evidence that the tablet market will be measurably larger than the PC market.€ (Piper Jaffray buys and sells Apple securities, according to a disclosure in the research note.)

By 2015, Munster suggested, the iPad market will expand to some 176 million units. He also believes that Apple will release a €œsub-$300 iPad€ sometime in 2013.

Apple claims it sold some 3 million new iPads in the first weekend of release. By comparison, it took the first iPad about 28 days to sell one million units.

Despite the consumer interest, another analyst believes that at least one group is disenchanted with the new device and its capabilities.

€œWe also think 3 million iPads in three days is impressive, but the developers were less impressed,€ Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, wrote in a March 18 research note. €œDevelopers were being encouraged to modify their applications for Retina display, with some belief€”which they created in their own minds€”that the new iPad sales will be north of 5 million or maybe more.€

The new iPad (Apple has so far declined to give it an official name along the lines of €œiPad HD€ or €œiPad 3€) features a high-resolution Retina display, an improved camera and processor and comparable battery life to its predecessors.

Although the iPad continues to dominate the tablet market as a whole, Apple clearly wasn€™t willing to leverage that advantage into higher device prices: The highest-cost version of the new iPad is $699 for the WiFi-only 64GB model and $829 for the 64GB model with WiFi and 4G. Individuals in the United States have the option of purchasing the new iPad with 4G Long-Term Evolution (LTE) connectivity via either Verizon or AT&T, but not through Sprint (which carries the iPhone).

However, there are indications that Apple is spending more to manufacture each unit.

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