NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Tuesday, Apple (AAPL - Get Report) is holding its iPad event to refresh the company's second-largest driver of revenue, behind the iPhone. It could be the company's most important iPad-centric event since the original iPad was announced, according to one analyst.
Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, who rates shares "buy" with a $777 price target, notes that the iPad update could help refresh iPad sales. "We believe this iPad launch will help put a bottom in the iPad sales cycle that reached negative territory in 3Q:FY13 for the first time in the history of the iPad," White wrote in his note. He is expecting that Apple will unveil the fifth-generation of the 9.7-inch iPad, and an updated second-generation of the iPad mini. He also believes that Apple will update the MacBook Pro, and give more detail about its desktop operating system, named OS X Mavericks.
In Apple's fiscal third-quarter, the company sold 14.6 million iPads, compared to 17 million in the year-ago quarter. The company released a new iPad in March 2012, accounting for some of the falloff. In the second-quarter of 2013, Apple sold 19.5 million iPads, so it's clear that iPad sales are bumpy, and a product refresh would go a long way toward putting it back on growth, from a units sold perspective.
According to research firm IDC, Apple continued to lose tablet market share to competitors, including Samsung, which runs Google's (GOOG) Android operating system. Apple had 32.4% of the tablet market for the second-quarter, compared to 60.3% in the year-ago quarter.Conversely, Samsung had 18% of the tablet market, up from 7.6% in the year ago quarter. Rounding out the top five in tablet sales were ACER, Lenovo and Asus, which makes Google's Nexus tablets. The iPad still accounts for a large chunk of Apple's revenue. In the fiscal third-quarter, iPad's accounted for $6.37 billion of Apple's $35.3 billion in quarterly revenue. White believes the fifth-generation iPad will have a slimmer, thinner design, taking its new design from its smaller sibling, the iPad mini. "We believe the iPad 5 will be approximately 15% thinner than the iPad 4 and we estimate at least 20-30% lighter," White notes. He also believes it will be 7% to 10% smaller than its predecessor, and come in Apple's new color scheme which it incorporated into the iPhone 5s: space gray, gold and silver.
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