Apple iPad 2 Will Sell 600,000 Units over the Weekend: Analyst

Apple's iPad 2 will sell some 600,000 units this weekend, according to one analyst. Others predict similar robust figures for the tablet's initial sales period.

Apple could sell more than 600,000 iPad 2 units over the weekend, Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall told Bloomberg March 11.

That would more than double the pace set by the original iPad, which moved 300,000 units in its first 24 hours of release in April 2010. That number included preorders.

Marshall joins other analysts in predicting that the iPad 2 will do well in the marketplace. In a March 8 research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster predicted that the tablet will sell 1 million units faster than its predecessor, which took 28 days to reach that mark. Part of the reason for the quicker sales, he argued, is the iPad 2's availability at a broader collection of retail stores.

The original iPad launched at 221 Apple retail stores and most of Best Buy's 1,100 stores in the United States. By comparison, the iPad 2 will debut in not only 236 Apple stores, but more than 10,000 other retail outlets. Best Buy, Walmart, Target, AT&T and Verizon will all offer the new tablet.

Data from research firm IDC suggests that Apple's share of the tablet market fell between the third and fourth quarters of 2010, from 93 percent to 73 percent. That came in the face of more robust competition from a number of competitors, notably Samsung and its 7-inch Galaxy Tab, which managed to take 17 percent of the market by the end of the year. Overall, some 10.1 million media tablets shipped during the fourth quarter, versus 4.5 million in the third.

In addition to a growing number of Google Android tablets, including the higher-end Motorola Xoom, 2011 will see the release of Research In Motion's PlayBook and Hewlett-Packard's TouchPad, both of which run proprietary operating systems.

Despite that increased number of rivals, IDC expects that Apple will manage to maintain a 70 percent to 80 percent share of the market. The iPad 2 comes with a variety of hardware upgrades designed to match competing specs, including a dual-core processor and front- and rear-facing cameras. The various models also retail for the same price points as their original iPad equivalents.

In addition, Apple has slashed the price of first-generation iPads by $100, in a bid to clear out its existing stock, and a healthy ecosystem of secondhand devices has sprung up on Websites such as eBay.