Apple iPad Will Remain Big Holiday Seller: Analyst

Apple's iPad could remain a big holiday seller, according to an analyst, and ship up to 45 million units in 2011 - despite upcoming competition from other tablet makers.

Apple could sell 45 million iPads in 2011, according to a new analyst report. In addition, the company is working to expand iPad adoption ahead of competing devices' entry into the market.

"We continue to believe the Apple iPad will be one of the most coveted gifts this holiday season," Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, wrote in an Oct. 14 research note. "Our trip to Taiwan and China this week provides further evidence of strong demand for the iPad during H2:2010."

In addition to Apple's retail and online storefronts, the iPad is also available through Wal-Mart, Target and Best Buy. On Oct. 14, Apple announced the iPad would be sold through both AT&T and Verizon stores starting Oct. 28. The presence of Verizon is particularly significant, as it marks a break in AT&T's carrier exclusivity for the device-and hints that the long-predicted Verizon iPhone could be imminent.

"The combination of these [AT&T and Verizon] agreements, along with the iPad launch at Target on October 3 and Wal-Mart's plans to begin selling iPads on October 15 will continue to drive better than expected demand for iPad," wrote White.

While the iPad has enjoyed blockbuster sales in the seven months since its release, Apple faces a number of upcoming competitors in the tablet space, including Samsung's Galaxy Tab and Research In Motion's PlayBook.

"We believe these announcements are significant in Apple's push to expand the adoption of iPad before competitors begin offering tablet-like devices in early 2011," White wrote. "Additionally, this aggressive sales channel expansion by Apple supports our field check last week with a Taiwan supplier that is expecting up to 45 million iPad unit sales in CY2011, which is more than double our 21.8 million forecast."

Bernstein Research analyst Colin McGranahan has estimated the current iPad sales rate at 4.5 million units per quarter, and 2011 revenues for the device at around $9 billion. "By any account, the iPad is a runaway success of unprecedented proportion," he wrote in a research note quoted by CNBC.

Despite these generally rose predictions, the iPad will have to maintain its sales rate in the face of increased competition over the next year. Samsung is preparing to debut its 7-inch Galaxy Tab on four carriers, while both Hewlett-Packard and Research In Motion are planning tablets with proprietary operating systems. Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has also trumpeted his company's intent to have its manufacturing partners produce tablets running Windows.

Editor's Note: A figure in this story has been corrected from $9 million to $9 billion.