Apple's 65 Million iPad March

A Newton, it ain't. By this point in time, few people would argue that Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iPad is anything but a big deal. But for investors, how big of a deal will it be?

When Apple introduced its first putative "tablet PC" in 1993, the Newton flopped. But building on the success of its i-Dynasty, Apple's reintroduction of the tablet concept in 2010 took wing from the get-go. Analysts who as recently as July thought Apple might sell 25 million iPads in 2011 are wearing their erasers to the nub as they frantically pencil in updated guesses:

Now comes the bravest prediction of all. According to Taiwanese tech reporter DigiTimes, two of the companies that build the iPad's displays -- Samsung and LG Display (NYSE: LPL  ) -- say that based on the orders they have in hand, it appears that Steve Jobs intends to assemble and sell 65 million iPads next year.

The news is fueling interest in companies of all stripes that cater to the nascent tablet industry, with Caris highlighting Intel (Nasdaq: INTC  ) , NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA  ) , and SanDisk (Nasdaq: SNDK  ) as strong contenders to rake in profits in the tablet wars. But of course, the biggest winner -- assuming the 65 million number is reliable -- would be Apple itself.

Apply a hypothetical $645 average sales price (in line with last quarter's iPad prices) to DigiTimes' assertion, and you're left with the astounding conclusion that iPads alone could yield $42 billion in 2011 revenue for Apple. That's 65% of Apple's current annual revenue, or enough money to fuel 65% revenue growth next year -- even if sales of iPods, iPhones, AppleTVs, and- Macs (remember them?) stagnate utterly. Which they won't.

Alternatively, even if you assume that the iPad fad cannibalizes iPod and iPhone revenue somewhat, DigiTimes' prediction seems to guarantee that Apple will blow right past consensus estimates of 27% profits growth next year.

And if they're wrong?
Same story -- different size. Assume Samsung and LG are off by, say 50%. Apple's overbooking its display orders for some reason. Or maybe Apple got a particularly good price, and is just buying in bulk. Even 32.5 million iPads and a lower profit margin should bring Apple's 2011 fiscal year in line with expectations. After that, any growth in iPhone's and Macs is just a pile of icing on the cake.

In short, however many millions show up for the iPad March, it's gonna be a heckuva parade.

Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation. Apple and NVIDIA are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. The Fool owns shares of and has bought calls on Intel. Motley Fool Options has recommended buying calls on Intel. 

Rich Smith does not own shares of, nor is he short, any company named above. Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Fool owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On January 03, 2011, at 1:13 PM, splorp wrote:

    I’d like to clarify a couple of things you’ve mentioned about the Newton.

    First of all, the Newton was not — in any way, shape, or form — a ‘tablet PC’. It was, however, the first and only true PDA and more specifically, it was a ‘handheld’ computer. Just because a computing device has a screen larger than a cellphone and is driven using a finger or stylus, that does not automatically relegate it into the same category as a tablet computer.

    Secondly, the Newton platform certainly did not “flop” as implied. It was developed and improved over the course of five years, taking advantage of increasingly more powerful hardware as it became available. The Newton achieved a status within the consumer and corporate communities and is still recognized as an innovative and unrivaled (in many aspects) computing platform.

    Did it flop? No. Was it “killed”? Yes.

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