A Tale of Two iThings
Despite the growing presence of competing products, things are looking bright for the iPad 2 -- weeks after its launch, buyers are still lining up to get one, and stocks continue to sell out. Meanwhile, Google's delayed the release of Honeycomb. On the other hand, the iPhone looks like it's going to be surpassed in market share by Android soon, and in a few years it may even fall behind Windows Phone, according to IDC.
Demand for the iPad 2 appears to remain undiminished more than two weeks after the item first hit the market in the United States, with long lines forming at Apple stores here in the U.S. as well as in foreign countries.
The strong demand for the tablets may well have been a factor driving Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference to sell out within 24 hours. That's no mean feat, considering they cost US$1,600 a pop. The conference will be held in San Francisco June 6 through 10.
Meanwhile, Google has delayed publication of the source code for Android 3.0, sparking speculation that it's turning away from the open source approach it originally took with the OS.
On the other hand, IDC has forecast that Android will become the leading smartphone operating system this year, and that Windows Phone will take second place after Android by 2015.
Finally, Amazon.com has introduced a trio of services that add up to a music locker and, in essence, take on Apple's iTunes music service, although how much of an impact that will have on Apple is still unclear.
Apple shares closed Tuesday at US$350.96.
Ai-Yi-Yi, iPad 2
Sales of the iPad 2 remain strong.
"Demand for the iPad 2 exceeds supply by a far margin, and sets the iPad 2 as the industry de facto standard tablet with which all others have to compete," Brian Marshall, an analyst at Gleacher, told MacNewsWorld.
How many iPad 2s Apple's actually sold so far remains anybody's guess. Various analysts have set the figure at between 5 million and 8.8 million, according to a Fortune report.
That optimism seems to have overflowed into observers' view of the outlook for Apple as a whole. On Thursday, George Colony, founder and CEO of Forrester Research, told Bloomberg that Apple would have record sales and growth for the next two years and become a $200 billion monster.
Perhaps this prediction is a bit enthusiastic, Marshall suggested.
"I estimate Apple will add an incremental $28 billion in sales in calendar year 2011 for a total revenue of $104 billion," Marshall stated. His back-of-the-envelope figures show Apple may hit revenues of $132 billion in 2012 and $160 billion in 2013 if it adds an incremental $28 billion in sales each year.
Apple did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
No Flow-Through From Japan Quake
The disaster in Japan, which some in the tech industry feared might disrupt shipments of components, has apparently not impacted Apple's supply chain.
That could be for various reasons.
The processor could be produced at multiple sites so supply won't be impacted by one or more sites' going down, for example, Tom Starnes, an analyst at Objective Analysis, told MacNewsWorld. Or there could be enough built-up inventory in the channel to feed demand for a while, he speculated.
It's not likely that manufacturers can turn readily to alternative suppliers, Starnes said.
"Nobody will be able to switch over to a different processor in less than six months unless a parallel design has been underway for a long time, and who has the resources for that?" Starnes asked.
Honeycomb's Humming Along
Google last week said it will hold off publishing the Android 3.0 source code, and it didn't indicate when the restriction would end. This gave rise to speculation that the Internet giant is turning away from the open source approach, which -- if true -- would be a major shift in approach for the mobile OS.
However, Google spokesperson Randall Sarafa said that's not going on.
"Android 3.0, Honeycomb, was designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes and improves on Android favorites such as widgets, multi-tasking, browsing, notifications and customization," Sarafa told MacNewsWorld.
"While we're excited to offer these new features to Android tablets, we have more work to do before we can deliver them to other device types including phones," Sarafa explained. "Until then, we've decided not to release Honeycomb to open source. We're committed to providing Android as an open platform across many device types and will publish the source as soon as it's ready."
Android, WinPho7 to Squash iOS?
Further, the combination of Nokia and Microsoft will drive Windows Phone to take second place after Android in the worldwide smartphone operating system market by 2015, IDC said.
"The iOS operating system is similar to that of RIM's in that both of them are only available on devices from a single vendor," Ramon Llamas, a senior research analyst at IDC, told MacNewsWorld.
"So, as hot as they are, their fortunes are tied to only one vendor, and it's going to be hard to move up from that," Llamas added. "On the other hand, Android's got a bunch of different players."
Like Android, Windows Phone will be available on devices from a variety of vendors, and it will get an extra boost from Microsoft's partnership with Nokia, Llamas opined. "Nokia is the paradigm for world-class manufacturing and distribution," he explained.