UPDATE October 26 2012: It has been almost 8 months since I published the hypothetical drive to 80M iPads in FY2012. The answer is a flat "NO". Apple cannot sell 80M iPads in 1 year. Even they are not that dominant in a fiscal environment that restricts people from buying a $500+ discretionary device. Apple has for now reached the saturation point of who is willing to pay a premium for a tablet. And now they've announced an overpriced "mini" device (which Steve Jobs said he'd never announce) which will fail in my opinion.
The market for tablets is all about sub-$200 devices, as the cutthroat competition for the early and late majority begins in the tablet wars. And here's Microsoft coming to the table with a tablet priced in the iPad range - the Surface. Surely another fail, because there does not appear to be space for 2 premium tablets in the market.
Without innovation in the pipeline for Spring/Summer 2013, Apple is going to see their lead (and stock price) erode in 2013. The only real new revenue generator must be content which is now at a paltry 6% (iTunes). This is the real opportunity for Apple to grow - to become a hardware and content company, something they have never done before. Time to spend some of that $120B cash stockpile.
The updated FY2012 figures for iPad is just shy of 60M units - not bad, but not what was expected or predicted based on "hockey stick effect" detailed below.
That's the main question on everyone's minds after yesterday's "new" iPad launch. The device is getting better with every iteration and it now has a screen that has more resolution that your 60" 1080p High Defintition television. Think about that - 3.1M pixels on the screen for your media. It is a hugely impressive device. It runs on the latest 4G LTE network capable of 70Mbps+ download speeds.
But the main question on everyone's mind is can Apple double their sales of ipads from 2011. Can Apple sell 80 Million iPads in 2012?
The current estimate is 50-60M iPads in 2012, bringing the total iPads sold to 100M since April 2010, when the iPad was introduced. That means keeping the current trend of 15M iPads per quarter at a standstill, which is very conservative. But if they sell 80M (very likely if the current trend shows) in 2012 they will effectively make more revenue from iPads than they made from ALL products in 2009. That is saying something -- it puts even the much lauded iPhone to shame.
Let's look at the trends:
The iPod was a cyclical device bought around the holidays and product announcements, it never really took off. The iPhone is a subsidized device that accelerated as more telecoms carried the device around the world. The iPad is a non-subsidized, laptop/PC replacement. Some families have multiple units. There will be repricing of the lower end iPad2 and with the new iPad name you can expect various pricing shenanigans to squeeze out every cent without going to a 7" tablet, ever. The new iPad will set the bar for all other tablet makers. And as a result the traditional PC makers have a lot to fear from this trajectory below - 80M iPads in 1 year is very likely.
UPDATED:The R value of .9863 is for a 3-rd order polynomial curve trendline which is a better fit than an exponential trendline. It includes the last 3 quarterly forecasts for rest of 2012.
In fact, if Apple doesn't hit 80M iPads this year, it means that the overall tablet market has peaked (or that Apple's addressable market has been saturated). What other tablet makers cannot match in technology they will have to make up in price and value. If Apple does not hit 80M iPads you can be sure that the Mac vs Windows effect will hit iPads too -- that is, people are willing to pay less for an inferior tablet or even buy 2 for the price of 1. And if that happens, the Apple roadmap will come into play forcing people to ask what else the technology pipeline has up its sleve. Beyond the iPad horizon stands an interactive TV. Apple has to go up, because the only other way is down, and it has been there before. I hope the enterprise picks up the iPad once and for all because this is where the buyers are to support the trendline above, failing that I do not see how we can be in Tim Cook's "post-PC" world quite yet.
“The resolution is what brings it home though. Let me put it this way: when I pulled up a nice, high resolution photograph on the iPad 3rd-gen, I genuinely could not tell the difference between what I was seeing onscreen, and a nice, beautifully shot, well-printed, glossy photograph. It was seriously to that level.”