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) --

Opinion may be divided on the merits



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new iPad, but the

future looks rosy for the company's Mac


iPhone offerings


Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Company, raised his Apple price target from $235 to $280 on Friday, citing healthy demand for Macs and iPhones.

"The trajectory of Mac and iPhone sales were materially higher in the company's last two quarters than we forecast in our previous valuation exercise in September," he wrote, in a note.

Apple's shares nonetheless dipped 5 cents, or 0.03%, to $198.62 on Friday, as the Nasdaq slipped 0.52%.

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During the company's recent first quarter, Apple's Mac shipments were up 33%, and iPhone shipments climbed a massive 100% compared to the same period last year.

Needham & Company estimates that Mac shipments will enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 8.1%, reaching 24.9 million units in 2019. This will be boosted by an Apple halo effect, according to the analyst firm, with iPhone and iPod customers buying Macs from the consumer tech giant.

Wolf also predicts that Apple's iPhone shipments will grow from 25.1 million in 2009 to 142 million in 2019. Previously, Needham had used 2018 as the final year of its iPhone forecast, predicting sales of 107 million units.

"Our new iPhone forecast assumes that the growing library of iPhone software applications will elevate the trajectory of iPhone sales going forward," wrote Wolf. "By exploiting a commanding lead in the all-important smartphone applications market, the iPhone is in a position to chalk up share gains."

Apple, which competes with

Research In Motion




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, currently holds 15% of the smartphone market, although Wolf predicts that this will reach 25% by 2019.

With almost $40 billion in cash exiting the first quarter, Apple certainly has the financial wherewithal to extend its Mac and iPhone reach. Wolf also

expects good things from the iPad


"Although the iPad could cannibalize some Mac sales, it has the potential to significantly increase Apple's share of the K-12 market," he wrote. "The iPad should also prove popular as an interactive textbook reader in thehigher education market where there are 17 million students."


biggest opportunity for the iPad

, however, is in the home market, and Wolf predicts that the tablet device will reach annual sales of 20 million units by 2019. "If anything, this forecast is likely to prove conservative if unique content and applications are created for the device," he added.

-- Reported by James Rogers in New York


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