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Analyst Charlie Wolf has upped his estimate for iPad sales this quarter from 13.5 million to 20 million units, as the Apple tablet makes significant progress in the business and education sectors.


In a revised note sent out to investors on 12 July, Wolf, who works for Needham, claims that his initial 30 June estimate of 13.5m units for the third quarter was a "hastily formulated initial estimate," and that the figure to be announced by Apple on 24 July will be much higher.

Driving iPad sales, Wolf states, is the uptake of iPads in education and business environments, where the tablet is being used to replace everything from school textbooks and paper pads, to pilot manuals and in-flight entertainment systems.

Highlights from the list of reasons Wolf gives for upping his estimate to 20 million sales in Q3 are below:

  • 12 NFL teams have replaced their paper playbooks with iPads.
  • A growing number of airlines, including United Airlines, have replaced their paper pilot manuals with iPads.
  • Other airlines, such as British Airways, are using iPads to manage their passenger lists, while others such as Singapore Airlines and Qantas are using iPads as passenger entertainment centres.
  • The deployment of 26,000 iPads in the San Diego School District, which likely represents the tip of the iceberg.
  • One school reported a ten percent improvement in the exam scores of students using iPads compared with students using paper books
  • One quarter of European doctors are reported to already use iPads, a percentage that's forecast to reach two-thirds in a year.
  • The iPad is undergoing tests in New York taxicabs as a combination entertainment/payment device.
  • SAP has deployed over 12,000 iPads running applications written by the company.

Wolf adds: "The preceding is a sample of the uses we've read about. We suspect the list is far longer, embracing, for example, travel agencies, real estate firms and restaurants, which are visualising the products and services they sell."

His new estimate is also based on the history of the iPad and where the trajectory of sales is heading.

"When iPad 2 was introduced in March 2011, sales increased 97 percent in the following (June) quarter. Our forecast of 20 million iPad sales in June implies a 70 percent sequential increase from March.

"While this number appears aggressive, it must be remembered that Apple has continued to sell iPad 2 at the lower price of $399. A study by Consumer Intelligence research Partners found that since the introduction of the new iPad in March, iPad 2 has composed 41 percent of all iPad purchases."

We're not expecting Apple to release a new fourth generation iPad until at least February or March next year, but a recent increase in rumours surrounding a 7.85in iPad mini suggest that the company might release a smaller Google Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire rival along with a new iPhone in time for Christmas.