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Apple Needs the iPad Mini to Regain Lost Market Share

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Analysts are optimistic about Apple's new tablets.

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MINYANVILLE ORIGINAL Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) reported strong iPad sales over the past weekend as the company launched the Wi-Fi version of the iPad mini and the iPad 4 with Retina Display. CEO Tim Cook praised the sales as record breaking with three million tablets sold; Apple sold 1.5 million units of the Wi-Fi only iPad 3 last March. However, Apple will not provide a breakdown of the sales numbers for both devices individually. (You can read the official Apple statement here.)

Analysts agree, though, that the majority of the sales likely went to the iPad mini. Overall, they reacted positively to the sales figures.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, who has been very bullish on Apple, originally anticipated iPad mini sales of 1 million to 1.5 million, but now he believes Apple sold between 2 million and 2.5 million iPad minis over the weekend. He calculated this estimate partially based on the lines of customers waiting for their tablet on Friday; nine out of 10 had waited for the iPad mini. He kept his price target for Apple at $900 per share.

Cook also said in the Apple statement that all initial supplies of the tablet "practically sold out." According to CNN Money, Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets stated that checks at Apple stores in the US showed 60% of them sold out of their iPad mini stock. He expected Apple to only sell between 800,000 units and 1 million units of the iPad mini; he maintains one of the highest price targets of $1,111 per share.

Investors sent Apple up over 1% on the news today, and analysts expect cellular versions of the iPad mini and the iPad 4 to perform well, too.

JPMorgan analyst Mark Moskowitz said:

We expect the product momentum to continue as the Wi-Fi + Cellular versions of both the iPad mini and 4th-gen iPad begin shipping in a few weeks in the US and in many more countries later this year. In our view, this level of early adoption of the new iPad mini could restore significant upside potential down the road, as the product expands Apple's tablet market coverage.

A More Competitive Tablet Market

Apple needs these strong sales as the tablet market has become more crowded, especially with the introduction of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Surface Tablet. (See also Microsoft's Surface Is Doing Well, but the Pro Edition May Secure Its Future.)

According to an IDC report released today, the global tablet market grew by 49.5% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2012 and by 6.7% from the second quarter of this year. Android powered tablets, such as Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire tablet and Samsung's
(PINK:SSNLF) Galaxy tablet, accounted for most of this growth.

Apple's tablet sales growth slowed down in the third quarter, though, and "Apple's slowdown put a sizeable dent in the company's commanding worldwide market tablet share, which slipped from 65.5% in 2Q12 to 50.4% in 3Q12." Demand from both the consumer and the commercial markets, including education, dipped during the quarter.

The iPad mini will likely help Apple regain some of its market share. IDC research director Tom Mainelli said, "We believe a sizeable percentage of consumers interested in buying an Apple tablet sat out the third quarter in anticipation of an announcement about the
new iPad mini. Now that the new mini, and a fourth-generation full-sized iPad, are both shipping we expect Apple to have a very good quarter."

Apple faces its biggest threat from Samsung. Apple's chief rival shipped 5.1 million tablets globally in the third quarter, representing an increase of 115% from the second quarter of this year and a 325% increase from the prior year quarter.

Twitter: @ChrisWitrak
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The author has a position in Microsoft.
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