By Quentin Fottrell
It’s already gone viral. In a research note entitled “Shock & Awe,” Needham & Co. investment bank analyst Charlie Wolf upped his 2011 forecasts for worldwide sales of Apple’s iPad to 30 million units from 20 million. That’s double the amount of iPads sold in 2010. Next year, he sees global sales of 40 million. These kinds of projections help whet the public’s appetite for the still-elusive tablet. How did he come up with the figures?
After the iPad 2 went on sale in 25 additional countries overseas on Friday, Wolf was busy checking the lines on MacSurfer.com. “I got on the Internet on Saturday afternoon,” he tells Pay Dirt. “It was mind-blowing. It was every bit the same as here if not more. It suggested that the iPad is now a worldwide phenomenon not just a U.S. phenomenon as it was a year ago.”
Wolf also noticed that two weeks after the U.S. launch there are lines at stores here, as witnessed here by the blog AppleInsider. He spoke to Apple’s regional manager for the northeast and people standing in line at the Apple store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue, which is near his home. Reports that President Obama has an iPad 2 helped: “If he didn’t have one that would have been a negative.”
Buoyed by the 60,000 iPad apps and intuitively-designed screen, Wolf quadrupled his 7.3 million first-quarter sales projection. No-one ever said it was an exact science. “This was a judgment call on my part,” he says. “I sort of ball-parked the first fiscal number into an annual number. It’s dramatically difficult to produce forecasts. This is a whole new computing category.”
Add to that Apple’s retail push into China and the fact that his wife “usurped” his own iPad, which he bought last May. One small caveat, however… He himself won’t be buying a new one: “I fell in love with the 11-inch Macbook Air. To me it’s better than the iPad in terms of its functionality and light weight. With the Macbook Air I don’t know if I’ll ever buy another notebook.” And, so, now you know.