By now, only the dead haven't heard the news: Apple (AAPL) is launching a new iPad Wednesday.
This is no small event. The iPad has already transformed its category. The competition itches to displace Apple's hold on the tablet market. Samsung (SSNLF.PK), ASUS, Research in Motion (RIMM), and Motorola (MMI) will be listening in. Will Apple again stand the industry on its head? Apple CEO Tim Cook promised: "We're just going to continue to innovate like crazy in this area." Can he make good on that?
To date, the iPad rate of adoption has already been faster than just about any other device, including the iPhone. Last quarter, Apple sold 15 million iPads, reaching that milestone in less than two years. In contrast, it took the iPhone almost four years to hit that volume. During each of the last 3 quarters, Apple has sold more than double the number of iPads as in the quarter the year earlier.
Look out: The iPad is driving Apple's future.
The iPad is on track to become Apple's biggest volume seller, surpassing even the iPhone. At this pace, the iPad will dethrone the iPhone as Apple's key product in two or three years. I don't think I am putting myself very far out on the Apple tree limb: The adoption rate is just that fast.
As Tim Cook noted:
The thing that is very different about the iPad is you can see it beginning to appear virtually everywhere.
Indeed, the iPad has been embraced everywhere -- enterprise, education, consumer. Right out of the gate.
Outselling the iPhone would be a tall order, but the pace of adoption makes that doable. Back in October 2010, I correctly predicted the iPad would become Apple's second biggest revenue generator. That forecast came to pass. This one will too. The iPad is becoming this decade's must-own product.
When Apple announced the 4S iPhone, the market yawned, totally misjudging the product. The 4S went on to wildly outsell expectations, selling four million units in its first weekend. This time around, the audience is going to be more easily convinced. Expect excitement coming out of Wednesday's launch. And, of course, another buying frenzy.
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Disclosure: I am long AAPL.