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1/25/2012
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Apple iPad Sales Show Rivals No Threat

Apple sold more than 15 million iPads during the holiday quarter, and CEO Tim Cook predicts tablets will outsell PCs in the future.

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Apple reported sales of 15.4 million iPads in its recent quarterly filing. That figure beat analyst expectations, which had set on about 13 million iPads. By way of comparison, HP's worldwide PC sales for the most recent quarter numbered 14.7 million. Apple sold 700,000 more iPads than HP did laptops, desktops, and tablets combined.

Apple CEO Tim Cook noted during his call with media that inexpensive tablets--such as the Barnes & Noble Nook or the Amazon Kindle Fire--are not a threat to the iPad.

"I think people really want to do multiple things with their tablets," said Cook. "We don't really see these limited function tablets and e-readers being in same category. In terms of competitiveness, the ecosystem for iPad is in a class by itself."

He's not wrong. The App Store has 170,000 applications that are designed specifically for the iPad. Cook said the selection of apps for low-cost tablets is "just a few hundred," according to AppleInsider.

[ Cook also reflected on Windows Phone's prospects in the smartphone wars. See Apple CEO: Three Horses In Smartphone Race. ]

Cook thinks the limited capabilities of the low-cost tablets will keep demand for the iPad high. He believes that the low-cost tablets "will sell a fair number of units, but I don't think that people that want an iPad will settle for limited function. We're just going to continue to innovate like crazy in this area. And we think we can continue to compete with anyone that is currently shipping tablets, or that might enter in the future."

For those wondering whether iPad sales may have eaten into Mac sales for the quarter, the 5.2 million Macs sold says otherwise. Instead, Cook believes that the iPad is eating into the sales of low-cost laptops or netbooks from other hardware makers.

The iPad is a 'huge opportunity for Apple over time," said Cook. "There will come a day when the tablet market in units is larger than the PC market. In fact it's interesting to note that in the U.S., it's clear from IDC's recent data on desktop PCs that tablets exceeded desktop PC sales last quarter. You can already see different indicators that there is significant momentum in this space."

Apple said that it is having a hard time keeping iPads on store shelves due to high demand.

The iPad 3 is on deck for a March arrival. It is said to have a high-definition display and LTE 4G capabilities. These two additions to the tablet will make an attractive device all the more attractive in the eyes of mobile professionals and media addicts.

The more important question is, how are Apple's competitors going to respond? So far, tablets made by vendors such as Motorola, HTC, HP, Sony, and RIM have failed to challenge the iPad. Will they ever be able to?

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