Apple Stands Above New Tablets: Analyst

BARCELONA ( TheStreet) -- Apple's ( AAPL) iPad has little to fear from the slew of new tablets on show at the Mobile World Congress (MWC), according to Canaccord Genuity analyst Mike Walkley.

"While we believe these tablets are more competitive with the iPad, we believe the iPad and particularly the iPad2 will sell very well in 2011," he wrote in a note released on Thursday. "Apple will maintain its dominant market and value share leadership position."
iPad

Tablets were big news at MWC, continuing a trend that started at last month's CES. Samsung used MWC to debut its new 10.1-inch Galaxy Tab tablet and LG took the wraps off the Optimus Pad, which runs Honeycomb, the latest version of Google's ( GOOG) Android OS.

Taiwanese tech giant HTC unveiled its first tablet, the Flyer, a 7.1-inch tablet that also runs Android. Other tablet makers were also out in force at the telecom industry show.

"We tested Samsung's Galaxy Tablet 10.1, LG's Optimus Pad, RIM's PlayBook, Motorola's ( MMI) Xoom, HP's TouchPad and HTC's Flyer," wrote Walkley. "While the Android products all looked very similar, we believe the relatively expensive sales price of roughly $799 could limit sales versus the popular iPad."

The analyst added that he is confident of strong iPad sales post-MWC, citing a lack of applications on new offerings such as HP's ( HPQ) TouchPad and RIM's ( RIMM) PlayBook.

The new tablets will also face competition from the new version of Apple's iPad, which is expected to appear in the next few months. The initial Apple iPad hit the shelves in April 2010, and the tech giant has already sold more than 14.77 million tablets.

The fact that Apple's iPad pricing starts at $499 bodes well for the next iteration, said Walkley. "With Apple's leading cost structure forcing competing products to sell at prices near to, or in some cases higher than, the iPad with much lower gross margins, we believe consumers will overwhelmingly choose the iPad2," he wrote. Motorola's Xoom is expected to sell for $799, and the smaller RIM PlayBook will go for $499.

Walkley expects to see the iPad 2 during the first quarter of this year, with enhancements such as front and rear-facing video. "As such, we remain comfortable with our 34 million iPad unit estimate for 2011," he added.

Motorola's Xoom has already garnered positive reviews elsewhere, while HP is now wielding Palm's WebOS operating system like a cudgel against Apple.

Apple shares dipped $4.19, or 1.16%, to $358.96 on Thursday.

--Written by James Rogers in New York.

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