Business Watch: Early iPad sales and forecasts

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In case you’ve been on the moon, or trapped under a heavy object for the past fortnight, Apple’s newest device, the iPad, has arrived.

Just days after launching the touchscreen tablet on these shores, Apple boasted it had already shifted two million iPads within two months of its US launch.

The iPad’s US success is the main reason for the delayed launch here. In the US, the device has proved an even quicker seller than the iPhone: Apple shifted one million of them in 28 days, versus 74 days for the iPhone back in 2007.

Market researchers GfK NOP reckon Apple will flog more than two million iPads in the UK, claiming that about five per cent of British consumers intend to buy an iPad.

But questions remain as to whether the device can really become a mass-market phenomenon or whether surging early demand is from early adopters and Apple addicts.

There is little doubt the iPad’s seamless marriage of smartphone mobility with laptop functionality is a big pull for a lot of people – and it does have that unmistakable Apple wow factor. Like the iPhone, however, the price is going to have to come down if Apple wants it to be a best-seller.

The 32GB iPad  currently costs £499, while the 64GB version will set you back £599.

Launched across a bunch of other countries in the past week, and going on sale in nine more next month, including Ireland, analysts at RBC Capital Markets think that over eight million of the things will have been sold across the globe by the end of the year.

RBC thinks the UK will be the third biggest market after the US and France. It predicts 585,000 will be sold here this year.

Sales so far are certainly proving good for Apple’s bottom line. Shares in the Nasdaq-listed giant rose 3.3 per cent on Tuesday as Wall Street analysts upgraded their forecasts for sales and profits on the back of the successful launch.

Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes told clients in a research note that sales would have been far greater if the company had enough of the things to sell. “iPads in the US still show lead times of seven-10 business days – stores have very limited supplies as well when shipments do come,” he wrote.

Some of that success is being attributed to the fact the software geeks have already written 5,000 applications that are only available to the iPad and take advantage of its larger screen.

So it’s all eyes on next week when, it is hotly anticipated, Jobs will unveil the newest version of the iPhone.

Full article in Mobile News issue 465 (June 7, 2010).

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