Do I Hear an iPad Christmas? Yes, Indeed

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas/Everywhere you go..."

Apple (AAPL) CEO Timothy D. Cook proclaimed on Apple's fiscal fourth-quarter investor conference call that it will be "an iPad Christmas," and it's certainly looking that way.

Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, who rates Apple shares "buy" with a $777 price target, notes that tablet demand over the Black Friday weekend was exceptional, with Apple's new iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display leading the way. White notes the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) did its annual Black Friday Survey, with the association noting that tablets were the most popular product purchased, "with 39% of those shopping for a consumer electronics product buying a tablet over the weekend or planning to buy one before the weekend was over."

The tablet is quickly becoming the most popular electronic in the household, right behind the television. There are still 2.9 televisions per household, but the tablet is quickly gaining on that level, with the CEA noting there are 1.5 tablets per household this year. "In our view, this robust appetite for tablets this holiday season is a clear positive for Apple's iPad franchise," White penned in his note.

On Apple's fourth-quarter earnings call, Cook proclaimed how excited he was about the iPad this holiday season, in light of the refresh iPad Air, and iPad mini with Retina Display, which both launched in November. "I think it's going to be an iPad Christmas and -- but we will see, we will report the numbers back to you in January how we did, but we are pretty confident," Cook said on the call.

Though Cook has largely been confident about tablet sales this holiday season, the iPad mini with Retina Display has been tough to find. White noted approximately 47% of the 38 Apple Stores surveyed were sold out of the 128GB model of the new, smaller WiFi + Cellular, 7.9-inch tablet, with 42% of stores being sold out of the 64GB model. Lower storage models were more readily available, with 29% of stores being sold out of the 32GB, and just 3% being sold out of the 16GB model. However, the WiFi models of both the iPad mini with Retina Display and first-generation iPad mini are readily available.

Tablets are not only being given as gifts this holiday season, people are shopping on them as well. IBM (IBM) released its annual Black Friday report, noting that U.S.-based shoppers increased sales by 18.9% year-over-year on Black Friday, with mobile sales playing a huge part in that.

IBM noted that mobile traffic grew to 39.7% of all online traffic on Black Friday, with mobile sales accounting for 21.8% of all online sales, up 43% year-over-year. Most of that spend came from tablets, with tablets driving 14.4% of all online sales, twice that of smartphones. Tablet spend was also higher than smartphone spend, with the average tablet order at $132.75, compared to $115.63 for a smartphone user.

As such, more push notifications (alert messages and popups) were sent to mobile devices on Thanksgiving and Black Friday, than over the past two months. IBM noted that on average, retailers sent  37% more push notifications during the two days, with Thanksgiving getting more push notifications than Black Friday. Average retail app installation surged by 23% during the same time frame.

Though Google (GOOG) may dominate in tablet market share, with Android-based devices accounting for a much higher percentage than Apple's iOS operating system, iOS users are more valuable, when it comes to purchasing habits. "On average, iOS users spent $127.92 per order, compared to $105.20 per order for Android on Black Friday," IBM wrote in the report. Apple's iOS accounted for 28.2% of all online traffic, and 18.1% of all online sales. By comparison, Android accounted for just 11.4% of all online traffic, and only 3.5% of online sales.

These statistics go back to what Apple's Cook has said many times before: that it's about usage share, and not about market share for Apple. "We are not solely focused on unit share as I've said many times," Cook said on Apple's fourth-quarter earnings call. "But we're focused on usage in customer's side, the loyalty and other things that are very important to us."

--Written by Chris Ciaccia in New York

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