Look for the iPad to Outsell the PC -- Again

Once more, Wall Street is betting Apple's iPad outsold domestic PC makers.

According to new analyst estimates compiled by Fortune, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) sold at least 14.8 million and as many as 23 million tablets during the calendar's third quarter, which happens to be the Mac maker's fiscal Q4. Apple reports earnings next week.

Fortune surveyed 61 analysts, 31 of which hailed from traditional Wall Street firms. On average, the pros pegged Apple's iPad sales at 17.6 million in the quarter that ended Sept. 29. The independent analysts put the total 9% higher, at 19.23 million. According to Fortune, the average of all estimates came in at 18.38 million iPads, which amounts to about 1.8 million to 3 million units more than the total PCs sold during Q3, going by data compiled by Gartner and IDC.

Either way, the introduction of lightweight Ultrabooks doesn't seem to be impacting iPad sales nearly as much as some expected. Dell (Nasdaq: DELL  ) sold just 3.3 million computers in the U.S. last quarter. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ  ) sold about 4.2 million units over the same period.

Whether this marks the beginning of a permanent shift away from classic computing systems isn't entirely clear, though Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) has taken steps to appease tab enthusiasts who don't exactly want to let go of the PC paradigm. The new Surface tablet, due next week, includes an option to purchase a fully functional keyboard for using the device like a lightweight laptop.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Apple at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home, portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Google+ or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended creating a synthetic covered call position in Microsoft. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.


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  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2012, at 1:04 PM, deasystems wrote:

    The author wrote, "The new Surface tablet, due next week, includes an option to purchase a fully functional keyboard for using the device like a lightweight laptop."

    Of course, that provides no advantage over the iPad world: iPad owners have had the same option since the iPad was first introduced.

  • Report this Comment On October 19, 2012, at 1:32 PM, TMFMileHigh wrote:

    @deasystems,

    >>Of course, that provides no advantage over the iPad world: iPad owners have had the same option since the iPad was first introduced.

    That isn't the point. The point is that, if there is a shift away from the traditional PC, Microsoft is taking steps to adjust. Make sense?

    Thanks for writing and Foolish best,

    Tim

    --

    Tim Beyers

    TMFMileHigh, Motley Fool Rule Breakers Analyst, Supernova Odyssey I Portfolio Contributor

    Web: http://timbeyers.me

  • Report this Comment On October 20, 2012, at 4:46 AM, herky46q wrote:

    Yes and it will be interesting to see what Apple can do with the iPad in the future because the display can't get any better.

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