iPad Sales May Reach 66 Million In 2012

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Following Apple’s announcement yesterday of the new iPad’s record weekend, which saw 3 million devices sold in three days, analysts are upping their predictions for the tablet’s market share growth over the course of the year. In a note to investors, Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray says the firm is now forecasting as many as 66 million sales of the new device in 2012, up from the earlier prediction of 60 million. Meanwhile, Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee is now predicting 60 million, up from 55 million.

Regardless of the final outcome, the bottom line impact the device will have on the market was summed up in Munster’s bullish note: “we believe the unprecedented ramp of the iPad over the past year is evidence that the tablet market will be measurably larger than the PC market,” he said.

Munster is also forecasting that Apple will ship 12 million iPads this quarter alone to reach 66 million by year-end. By 2015, that number will reach 176 million, he says.

Those figures stack up with other trends in the so-called “post-PC” era (a misnomer, really – it doesn’t mean “no PC,” as many assume). For example, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted during the iPad’s launch that Apple sold more iPads in Q4 than any single manufacturer sold in PCs. Gartner later released figures showing that PC shipments were on track to grow just 4.4% in 2012 to 368 million units, as consumers would prioritize buying smartphones and tablets over desktops and laptops. And let’s not forget that last month, Canalys dubbed Apple the largest “PC” maker if you were to count iPads as PCs.

In addition, IDC also recently raised its tablet shipment estimates for the year, up from 87.7 million to 106.1 million, in advance of the iPad’s launch.

What Will Windows 8 Bring?

However, IDC released new data today on PC shipments, which saw a slight bump by year-end (1.8% growth on the year…still, ouch). And analysts there seem cautious to hand the iPad the crown just yet. Explains IDC’s VP of Clients and Displays, Bob O’Donnell, the industry doesn’t know the impact Windows 8 may have when it arrives.

“Many consumers are holding off making PC purchases at the moment because tablet devices like Apple’s iPad are proving to be a powerful distraction,” he notes. “However, end user surveys tell us that few people consider media tablets as replacements for their PCs, so later this year when there is a new Microsoft operating system, available in sleek new PC form factors, we believe consumer interest in PCs will begin to rebound.”

You may either vehemently agree or disagree with that statement, depending on where your biases lie. But Windows 8, which TechCrunch’s John Biggs described as “on the cusp of getting things right,” when launched, is still a big question mark in terms of reception. And until it arrives, predictions for where the iPad/PC/tablet market is headed are just that – predictions.

To make matters worse, it’s becoming increasingly confusing to differentiate between tablet operating systems and “desktop” versions, as features from one another cross over to both sides. This is true both for Windows 8, which shares things in common with Windows Phone and Apple’s OS X, which has iOS-inspired additions.

When Steve Jobs referred to this shift in computing as the “post-PC” era, it was a clever way to promote the iPad as the future of computing. That’s accurate, to some extent, but really, we’re headed to a time when PCs are ubiquitous – whether desktop, laptop, portable, tablet or mobile. “PC everywhere” is a more apt description.