Tablets for the Holidays

By Reuters  |  Print this article Print

Apple's iPad and strong retail sales for the rest of the company's products mean a happy holiday for the technology company, with analysts expecting a 50 percent boost in revenue year over year for the December quarter.

With the introduction of the iPad, the company entered the holiday season with perhaps the hottest gadget of the year. Only Microsoft's Kinect video game system seems to rival it in terms of consumer interest.

Advertisements for the iPad are everywhere, and Oprah Winfey's glowing endorsement of the device -- as part of her "favorite things" bonanza -- gave it an even higher profile.

With many rival tablets yet to hit store shelves, analysts expect Apple to sell 5.5 million to 6 million iPads in the December quarter.

That number still pales in comparison to the iPhone, which should easily top 15 million units.

Apple's chief rival in the smartphone market, Research in Motion Ltd, reports results on Thursday, providing a snapshot of demand. The company is expected to get a boost from its new device, the touchscreen Torch and is expected to provide updates to its plans to release its own iPad-killer, the Playbook.

Although iPods sell well at the holidays, they are no longer a growth driver. The company has sold nearly 300 million iPods since launch, as the media player became a staple gift.

Retail stores have become key to Apple's holiday success. Last quarter, the company's more than 300 stores around the world saw 74.5 million visitors, as retail revenue rose 75 percent to $3.6 billion.

(Reporting by Gabriel Madway; Editing by Derek Caney)