Apple iPad, iPhone Sales Will Remain Strong Through Holidays: Analyst

Apple holiday sales will remain strong, predicts one analyst, despite the weakened economy and competition from other smartphone and tablet makers.

Apple's holiday sales will remain strong, says an analyst from Ticonderoga Securities. While certainly no surprise given the company's performance throughout 2010, the new research note nonetheless counterbalances some concerns about both the general weakness of the economy and contrarian analyst reports suggesting sales of iPads and other devices will underwhelm.

"With the powerful combination of Apple's iPad, iPhone 4, refreshed iPod/iPod Touch portfolio, the new MacBook Air and Apple TV, we believe Apple is positioned for a big holiday season this year," Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, wrote in a Nov. 29 research note. "Regardless of the overall strength during Black Friday and the holiday season at large, we believe Apple has the products that consumers demand."

The iPad has managed to dominate the consumer tablet market in the eight months since its release, with research firm Strategy Analytics estimating a 95.5 percent share for the device. Nonetheless, it faces rising competition in the form of Android-based tablets such as the Samsung Galaxy Tab. In 2011, major manufacturers, including Research In Motion and Hewlett-Packard, will debut their own tablets running proprietary operating systems.

Earlier in November, Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar suggested that, as a result of pressures on Apple's supply chain, iPad sales would fail to meet previous analyst estimates of 6 million units sold in the fourth quarter. He also suggested that sales of the Dell Streak and Samsung Galaxy Tab would fail to sell in substantial numbers.

"We do not see tablets go the way of netbooks," he wrote, as quoted by Fortune. "But if current trends continue, the tablet market may not end as much more than iPads or a tweener product between smartphones and next-generation thin-and-light notebooks a la MacBook Air."

Kumar's prediction, however, could have been holed below the waterline by a Nov. 14 Korea Herald report suggesting the Samsung Galaxy Tab had sold more than 600,000 units in a month. Indeed, more analysts seem to view the tablet market as robust heading into the next several quarters.

"The tablet wars are up and running," Neil Mawston, a director for Strategy Analytics, suggested in a Nov. 2 statement accompanying a report on the tablet market. "Apple has quickly leveraged its famous brand, an extensive retail presence and user-friendly design to develop the tablet market into a multibillion-dollar business. Android, Microsoft, MeeGo, WebOS, BlackBerry and other platforms are trailing in Apple's wake, and they already have much ground to make up."

Strategy Analytics nonetheless expects Android tablets to gain market share as more devices hit the market. J.K. Shin, president of Samsung's mobile business, reportedly told an audience during a Nov. 4 press conference in Seoul that more than 1 million Galaxy Tab units would sell in 2010.

All those competing companies, of course, want to take a market-share chunk out of Apple this holiday season, and beyond.