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iPad with LTE Bolsters Apple's Tablet Position

Thu, 03/08/2012 - 6:52am
Andrew Berg

While there is always a sliver of letdown after Apple fails to meet the impossible expectations created by weeks of rumors leading up to an announcement, the bottom line following Wednesday's iPad launch appears to be that the new LTE-capable tablet will only bolster Apple's dominance in the tablet market.

Research firm IHS iSuppli projects Apple will actually gain share of global media tablet shipments for the full year 2012 to 61 percent, up from 57 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Rhoda Alexander, senior manager, tablet and monitor research for IHS, said that Apple is resetting the bar for the completion. "We expect demand for the new iPad — with its high-resolution, 2,048 by 1,536 display — to outstrip supply for much of the year. Meanwhile, more price-sensitive customers will flock to buy the freshly discounted iPad 2," Alexander said.

Alexander noted that while Apple is not always the first to market with a particular feature — in this case LTE — when the company does implement a feature, it usually executes well, leaving the competition scrambling to catch up.

"None of the iPad competitors has demonstrated the capability to compete head to head with Apple at a premium price point," Alexander said. "With the arrival Windows 8 on ARM microprocessors postponed to 2013, and most of the Android competitors now regrouping, IHS has lowered the media tablet forecast for Apple competitors in 2012. This means Apple will continue to capture the majority of the market well into 2014."

Canaccord technology analyst Michael Walkley reiterated his 'buy' rating and $665 price target on Apple following the announcement yesterday. In comments, Walkley asserted that the new iPad has raised the bar relative to competing tablets.

Walkley also liked Apple's price drop on the iPad 2. "We believe Apple's pricing of the new iPad ($499 for WiFi-only, $629 for 4G base models) and iPad2 (reduced to $399 for WiFi-only, $529 for 3G base models) will enable Apple to maintain dominant share of the growing tablet market," Walkley wrote.

Investors appeared to have made peace with the new iPad. The stock dropped almost 4 percent immediately following the announcement to $524 per share but gained back most of that by Wednesday's market close. Shares of Apple were up slightly in early trading on Thursday to $533, compared to the company's all-time high of $548.

In typical Apple fashion, pre-orders of the new tablet appear to be moving right along. Reports are already surfacing on Apple forums about delayed shipping dates for certain LTE models.

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