Today is an important day for tablet fans, as Apple reports its first full quarter of iPad sales. The company is widely expected to report selling as many as 6 million iPads between July and September. Bullish sales predictions are leading many investors to try and "gauge consumer enthusiasm for the tablet" based on Apple's earnings call, according to Reuters. If Apple blows past the sales figures it would prove with cold hard numbers that tablets are a significant new market for computer makers. If Apple fails to hit its expected sales target then it could also dampen enthusiasm for burgeoning tablet devices.
Analysts are widely predicting Apple will announce iPad sales anywhere from 4.5 to 6 million devices sold this quarter. Although there is intense interest in tablets thanks to the iPad some major voices in the technology industry are doubtful about the form factor's current importance.
Intel CEO Paul Otellini said during his company's recent earnings call that tablet numbers "are relatively small in the grand scheme of the ship rate of the PC, notebook, netbook businesses," according to a transcript of Intel's earnings call on Seeking Alpha. AMD CEO Dirk Meyer said the chipmaker is not ready to invest R&D spending on tablets, because the market size doesn't warrant it yet, according to CNET.
If the analysts are right, Apple's earnings call on Monday may clear away any doubt about tablets being a viable market segment worthy attention. There have already been several reports that the iPad is cannibalizing netbook sales. If Apple sells 4.5 million iPads this quarter -- the lower end of current predictions -- that would bring iPad sales to nearly 8 million devices in just 6 months including the pre-sales time period. In July, Apple reported it had sold 3.27 million iPads during the first three months the device was available for purchase. By comparison, netbook shipments totaled 10 million units in 2008, the first full year the form factor was sold.
Apple's Rosy Outlook
Everywhere you look there is good news for Apple and its ever-expanding empire of iPhone, iPads and Mac computers. Apple's stock price recently broke past $300 per share for the first time ever. The company is expected to report record sales on Monday during its fourth quarter earnings call that may be as high as 46.2 percent over the same time last year, according to The Wall Street Journal . Apple could even surpass Exxon to become the most valuable company in the United States in terms of market capitalization, according to the Guardian.
Apple's fourth quarter earnings call starts at 2 p.m. Pacific on Monday, October 18.