Could Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) have this big a reason to cheer? Needham & Co. analyst Charlie Wolf on Thursday substantially raised his earlier estimate of iPad sales in the June quarter, predicting a record 20 million unit sales for the tablet rather than his earlier guess of 13.5 million. Wolf wrote in a note to investors that his initial estimate made in April had been “hastily formulated.”
“In our view, it’s only a matter of time before iPad shipments exceed iPhone shipments,” Wolf wrote. “The iPad is invading the business market at a much faster pace than the iPhone. In addition, the iPad will launch in China on July 20th. This should provide a significant boost in sales now that Apple is providing Chinese languages and services on its iOS platform.”
The new figure is more than double the 9.25 million iPad units Apple sold in the same quarter a year ago. If it comes true, it would also be a new record for iPad sales in any quarter, beating the 15 million mark from the holiday shopping season of 2011.
Wolf said he believed iPad sales had been particularly strong in both the business and education segments of the market, and pegged the $399 16-gigabyte iPad 2 as a bestseller for Apple.
“In a large number of usage cases, iPad has replaced paper documents, which not only translates into greater convenience but also cost savings,” Wolf wrote. “To illustrate, using customized applications, 12 NFL teams, including the Cincinnati Bengals, the Denver Broncos and the Baltimore Ravens, have replaced their paper playbooks with iPads … iPads have also replaced the reams of paper that make up pilots’ flight manuals … Finally, both the Polish Parliament and Dutch Senate have substituted iPads for paper printouts of the documents read by their members.”
The analyst also increased his June quarter iPhone estimate to 28 million units from his previous prediction of 27 million. Apple had sold 35 million units in the March quarter, and the expected drop is largely being blamed at buyers potentially waiting for the next generation of the device to be launched.
“The assumption underlying our forecast of a sequential quarterly decline is that some customers have begun to postpone their purchases of an iPhone 4S in advance of a much widely publicized introduction of the new iPhone this fall,” Wolf wrote.
Apple is expected to report earnings for its third fiscal quarter on July 24.