The thousands of pieces of information thrown at investors can be daunting. Analyzing balance sheets, poring over comparable financial measures such as earnings multiples and cash flows, and assessing management can make studying stocks a laborious task. However, lost in the information overload of company information is that a buy and sell decision on a particular company can often be defined by a single question or theme.

With that in mind, in this series we're looking at the one key theme to examine for some of the most popular stocks around. Today, we're digging deeper into Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL).

The one thing to know about Apple: iOS's growth and booming sales mean little innovation needed
Apple's success is now largely built on its popular iOS mobile operating system, which powers the iPad, iPod touch, and iPhone. The success of iOS has propelled Apple to being a $300 billion company and was the reason behind Apple's 54% gain in 2010.

However, for all the success and media attention surrounding 2010's breakout product, the iPad, 2011 should send Steve Jobs' wunderkind into a whole new realm of success. I say this because the iPad has sold about 7.5 million iPads through last quarter and will probably finish 2010 with a low- to mid-teens million.

The continuing reports of Apple's ramping orders for the next-generation iPad are simply stunning. The recent report comes courtesy of DigiTimes, with reports that sources within display suppliers Samsung and LG Display hint to an order rate of 65 million iPads next year.

As Foolish colleague Rich Smith notes, at current iPad selling prices that would yield an extra $42 billion in sales next calendar year. For context, in the entire last year, Apple produced $65 billion in sales.

Keys to the takeaway
After years of producing new hit products, there has come to be a perception surrounding Apple that the company needs to continue producing new hits to keep its share price from crashing. But the notion that Apple needs more big home runs to justify its massive valuation is simply not true. 

I'll stay cautious and steer iPad sales down from DigiTimes' massive projections, but there's no doubt that the iPad should be able to drive Apple's revenue significantly higher next year. Beyond the iPad, smartphones continue to grow at tremendous growth rates. Although Apple might see shrinking growth rates as future smartphone growth skews to emerging markets, there's little doubt that the iPhone will deliver high-double-digit growth rates next year. Those factors alone should push Apple past earnings expectations next year.

Beyond that, future innovation can come from expanding iOS. Apple TV could see an iOS upgrade, as the operating system would be perfect for connecting games onto the living room screen. Then there's also Apple's foray into advertising through its iAD Creative Agency, and the Mac App Store has the potential to further increase Apple's presence in digitally distributing applications and media.

Will all those products be wild success stories? Probably not. However, Apple doesn't need any of them to surpass expectations in the coming years; they merely provide powerful new opportunities for growth.

In the end, iOS's ability to scale from smartphone to tablet has secured Apple a powerful growth stream, while competitors Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) struggle to convert their platforms to larger tablet devices. Thanks to iOS, Apple has to worry more about operational considerations, such as its expanding supply chain in 2011, than about reinventing some revolutionary product line. That should help Apple shareholders sleep a little easier at night.

Think Apple is a buy? Leave your thoughts in the comments area below!

Eric Bleeker owns shares of no companies listed above. You can follow his tech stories and musings on Twitter. Google is a recommendation of Motley Fool Inside Value and Motley Fool Rule Breakers. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. The Fool owns shares of Apple and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.