It's pretty early in the game to call the iPad a winner (or loser) but that's not going to stop analysts and industry execs from their god-given right to bluster. AppleInsider did a nice roundup of Wall Street types predicting year one sales to be anywhere from 1 million and 5 million units with potential to grow as Apple churns out future device iterations, more content and carrier agreements, and a broader global reach of its devices and services. Paul Peng, executive VP of AU Optronics' global business unit, the company tasked with providing the iPad's display apparently, sees Apple selling up to 10 million units annually. Then again, AUO's going to hype this device with all it's got in hopes of selling additional panels to more clients.
On the surface, these numbers are pretty optimistic when you consider that Apple sells about 13.5 million Macs per year (extrapolating 3.36 million sold last quarter). Even more so when you realize that only 3 million to 4 million tablet PCs are sold annually according to Peng and Endpoint Technologies' analyst Roger Kay. Problem is, the iPad isn't really a tablet PC is it? As Technologizer astutely points out, "the iPad isn't a traditional PC –- it's more of an appliance. You don't tinker with your television; you turn it on and consume services." By that logic, it's not a direct competitor to the netbook or e-reader either (though the markets definitely overlap). The only thing we can say with certainty is that it is divisive and that it has captivated the attention of the entire consumer electronics industry.