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Apple's 2011: A Preview

iPad 2

Hitting shelves in April, the initial iPad has left late-coming rivals like HP (HPQ) and Dell (DELL) trailing in its wake. Apple sold 1 million iPads within four weeks of the tablet's debut; Samsung's Galaxy tab, which debuted overseas two months ago, just tipped the 1 million-sold mark.

"Next steps with iPad are obvious, and Apple has even alluded to them: enhance the product and drive down the entry price," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research. "I expect a new iPad in the first half of 2011, with a price reduction on the current models."

"I think that Apple will reset the [iPad] bar in April," added Edward Jones analyst Bill Kreher. "We can expect a front-facing camera and a thinner form factor."

Kreher thinks that the front-facing camera will herald a major expansion of the Facetime video chat feature that first appeared on the iPhone 4. "The camera will feed into the explosive growth of Facetime," he explained. "[Apple] is offering this Facetime technology to other vendors, whether tablet or PC, and it will be interesting to see who adopts it."

In addition, analysts familiar with Apple's iPad plans say that the next version will have both GSM and CDMA network compatibility, courtesy of Qualcomm (QCOM) chips.

"We think that Apple will sell just under 14 million iPads in 2010 and just under 27 million in 2011," said Canaccord's Walkley. "And some [component] build rates out there suggest that it could be a higher number."

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