iPad 3: 10 Key Factors That Will Drive Sales

Tuesday Feb 14th 2012 by Don Reisinger

NEWS ANALYSIS: Apple's iPad 3 could be launched as early as March. And when it does debut, its success or failure will depend on several key factors.

Apple's iPad 3 is right around the corner. In fact, the latest rumors suggest Apple will be holding a special event unveiling its next slate in early March, and the device could launch soon after the official unveiling. In addition, those rumors say Apple's iPad 3 could come in a few different screen sizes, include 4G connectivity and deliver a bit more storage than its predecessor. In many ways, the iPad 3 could become the device consumers had hoped to find with the iPad 2.

Given that, it's quite likely that the iPad 3 will be a huge success. Like its predecessors, it'll likely get off to an exceedingly strong start, and continue to sell well until its replaced by the iPad 4. What we don't know now, however, is to what degree the iPad 3 will be successful. Will it set new sales records like the iPad 2 did, or will it be only a mediocre success that forces Apple to rethink its strategy?

If Apple wants strong iPad 3 sales, it'll need to make several right decisions, and capitalize on market factors that could either help the tablet's adoption or hurt it. To understand this, here's a look at 10 specific trends that could impact sales of the iPad 3.

1. 4G or no?

The future of mobile connectivity is in 4G. And there is rampant speculation that the iPad 3 will support 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) technology. If it does, expect Apple's next tablet to be a success. However, if it lacks 4G and it becomes something consumers are really looking for, iPad 3 sales could be hurt.

2. Is the design different enough?

Apple is expected to deliver an impressive new design in the iPad 3. In fact, all the hype surrounding the device centers on a unique new look that consumers are going to love. But what if Apple ditches those plans and offers up something we've seen before? There's a chance iPad 3 sales will suffer.

3. What's the selling point?

In many cases, Apple doesn't need to make such a convincing argument to make people buy its products. At this point, if an Apple logo is affixed to a device, it'll be popular. But with so many people buying the iPad 2 last year, getting them to spend an additional $500 or more won't be so easy. Apple will have to make a strong selling point with the iPad 3, or watch it lose some steam.

4. China

China has quickly become a key battleground for Apple. The country, with a population exceeding 1 billion people, has become the company's second-largest market. Soon, if Apple can ink an iPhone deal with China Mobile, China could become its largest market. As long as the iPad 3 gets to China and consumers like it, there's a good chance we'll see record-breaking sales of the device, no matter what Apple delivers.


5. Competing devices

Although Apple's iPad has been dominating the tablet space, this year, it'll be facing off with a host of competitors. From Samsung to Motorola to maybe even Google, a number of companies will be trying to win more tablet market share. And how well or poorly they perform will decide€”in some part€”the iPad 3's success.

6. Windows 8

Following that, it's important not to discount Windows 8. That operating system, which is slated to launch later this year, will be running on tablets from Dell, Acer and potentially more companies. If the enterprise, especially likes what it finds with Windows 8, Apple's late-year sales might be negatively affected.

7. Amazon's response

So far, Amazon has been the only company to crack the code and find a way to stand up to the iPad juggernaut. With that in mind, the updated version of the Kindle Fire that Amazon is expected to release this year could very well determine if Apple's alternative achieves record sales or only has some success. The Kindle Fire 2 will play a key role in Apple's 2012.

8. It all comes back to price

If the Kindle Fire has taught us anything, it's that prices matter in the tablet market. The Kindle Fire sets customers back just $199, while the iPad 2 comes in at a starting price of $499. If Apple maintains that pricing strategy and competitors try to undercut Apple on price, it should be quite interesting to see how everything plays out.

9. Will the iPad 2 still be available?

There is some speculation that Apple will continue to offer the iPad 2 alongside the iPad 3. Like a similar iPhone strategy, Apple would discount the iPad 2 and offer the iPad 3 at the current $499-and-up price tags. If it does so, some of the iPad 3's sales could go to the iPad 2, limiting the iPad 3's potential. It's not a big issue, of course, but it's a key factor to consider before forecasting iPad 3 sales.

10. Screen sizes

According to component suppliers, Apple is currently working on launching an 8-inch iPad 3 to go along with its current 9.7-inch tablet. The move might be a good one, considering several competitors have had some success selling 7-inch slates. The only question is, if Apple sells an 8-inch iPad 3€”likely for less than its larger model€”how will its revenue figures be affected? For the first time, screen sizes could play a role in the iPad 3's adoption.

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