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Analyst: Apple to Sell at Least 48 Million iPads This Year

Analyst: Apple to Sell at Least 48 Million iPads This Year

With a boost by the upcoming iPad 3, Apple should see sales of more than 48 million of the popular tablet this year, says Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu. He attributes his forecast to recent speculation that the iPad 3 would be a “significant update” over the existing iPad 2, and will reach customers in March.

In a story today for CNET, Lance Whitney reports:

Reports have also popped up that Apple’s next tablet would be powered by a quad-core chip and support 4G LTE. Though Wu didn’t weigh in on the likelihood of those features surfacing, he did say that such improvements would be “welcome surprises.” Based on his supply chain sources, the analyst expects the iPad 3 to sport a higher-resolution screen and to include the Siri voice assistant, both features of the iPhone 4S.

LTE on the iPad would suggest that the iPhone 5 will also support the higher-speed mobile standard, according to Wu, who is eyeing a summer-to-fall timeframe for the next iPhone.

Apple has shied away in the past from LTE for its mobile devices, saying the technology wasn’t mature enough. Many of the early 4G handsets have been criticized for poor battery life. But, says Wu, that could be a limitation Apple has found a way to address.

“Our industry sources indicate Apple has made noticeable progress in improving battery life that have plagued competitor products,” Wu wrote in this note. “This is due to the company’s ownership of core intellectual property including systems design, semiconductors, battery chemistry, and software.”

Major changes in the next iPad could drive sales higher, pushing it even to an even loftier level past all of the Google Android tablets on the market.

Wu’s forecast of 48 million iPads sold would be a huge boost over the 32.4 million sold in fiscal year 2011.

Apple is due to release its sales figures for the December quarter on January 24.