Apple's Holiday Sales: It's All About the iPad

| About: Apple Inc. (AAPL)

Apple’s Black Friday and Thanksgiving weekend sales appear to confirm the iPad’s role as the “Mac for the masses,” say analysts, who were busy handicapping how many units the company moved.

On Monday, a bevy of analysts were issuing research on Apple’s sales. The short version, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster:

  • The average Apple store was selling 8.8 iPads an hour;
  • That average store was selling 8.2 Macs an hour, flat with a year ago.

Munster has been arguing that iPad is reaching new demographics and represents the Mac for the masses. Munster is projecting that Apple will sell 5.5 million iPads in the December quarter with 4.2 million Macs sold.

He wrote:

Most notable in our observations, we noticed that the iPad is gaining traction (driven by lower price vs. the Mac) among demographics in which the Mac has historically not been successful. The bottom line is that Apple’s addressable market is expanding with the iPad.

Stifel Nicolaus analyst Doug Reid said that Apple’s iPhone sales also appear to be on track with estimates of 14.2 million units in the December quarter “despite evidence of growing momentum in Android devices led by Samsung Galaxy S, HTC Droid Incredible and Motorola Droid X.”

On the iPad front, Reid noted that iPad is dominating tablet sales although inquiries about the Samsung Galaxy Tab are picking up.

Reid was upbeat about iPad sales largely because there are no supply constraints. Indeed, a recent visit to Best Buy confirmed there is ample supply.

Overall, it looks like a solid holiday season for the iPad. Susquehanna analyst Jeffrey Fidacaro wrote in a research note:

Apple held a one-day sale on Black Friday, consistent with the discounts in the past two years. Since Apple typically does not discount its products, we were surprised to see $41 off iPads on Black Friday (a 6% discount from the average iPad price) given the recent launch of this product line. While we believe it is too early to get a read on this, we have 3 thoughts: 1) Apple is taking advantage of its first-to-market lead in tablets through the Holidays to build its installed base; 2) moving inventory ahead of its 1QCY11 refresh; or 3) testing iPads price elasticity. Overall, our store checks were positive for Holiday sales with particularly high demand for iPad, 11″ MacBook Air, and 15″ MacBook Pro.

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