All iPad, All the Time

The media hype surrounding Saturday's market launch of Apple's iPad means one thing: Sales will thrash all estimates.
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The amount of free advertising that Apple (AAPL) - Get Report has received for the new iPad is worth hundreds of millions of dollars over the last 48 hours alone.

The product, which goes on sale in the U.S. Saturday, is the subject of in-depth coverage by

CNBC

,

Fox News

,

The New York Times

,

Los Angeles Times

,

USA Today

,

The Wall Street Journal

and practically every local news station and newspaper around the world.

And don't forget the prime-time product placement in ABC's

Modern Family

as well as a cameo in the most memorable Jay-Z moment at the 2010 Oscars.

If there was any question as to whether or not Apple had reached a tipping point of critical mass those doubts have been removed. All of this free advertising leads to one conclusion: The iPad is going to thrash all sales estimates.

Have you heard about what's happening in Germany? They have reportedly received 250,000 orders! It will be very interesting to find out the final tally of iPad's opening weekend in the U.S.

Clearly, it's looking to dwarf the opening sales numbers of the 2007 iPhone. The important thing for investors to remember is that most analysts have not yet factored in iPad sales into their estimates.

Expect to see numerous analyst upgrades over the next few weeks.

I reiterate my long-held view that this is the first product ever specifically designed to utilize apps, surf the Internet and be held in one hand.

The world has been waiting for an iPad for the last 10 years. With prospective buyers including 75 million iPhone and iPod Touch users, 217 million global online gamers, 9 million doctors, 60 million teachers and 16 million college students, I think it's reasonable to assume sales of at least 10 million in 2010.

No brand in the world has a premium of consumer trust like Apple. Consumers know that money spent in iTunes and App Store is money well spent. Consumers know that the iPad will offer the same seamless user experience as the iPod and iPhone.

The opposite of Apple is a company like

Palm

(PALM)

, which has no brand loyalty because it failed to build an ecosystem in the early days of success with the Treo. They left themselves open to be victimized by the next best thing. As a result, Palm's entire market cap is comparable to the amount of free advertising Apple has received in the last 48 hours. The iPad is on track to become Apple's flagship product.

At the time of publication, Schwarz was long shares of Apple

.

Jason Schwarz is an option strategist for Lone Peak Asset Management in Westlake Village, Calif. He is also the founder of the popular investment newsletter available at www.economictiming.com. Over the past few years, Schwarz has gained acclaim for his market calls on the price of oil, Bank of America, Apple, E*Trade, and his precision investing in S&P 500 option LEAPS. His book, The Alpha Hunter, is set to be released by McGraw Hill in December 2009.