Apple will sell more than 13 million iPads worldwide by the end of 2011, according to the latest estimates from Ovum, but will have a harder time getting the device to reach mainstream acceptance in the same way as the iPhone and iPod.
First-day sales of the iPad in the US reached an impressive 300,000, and were on a par with equivalent sales for the iPhone. But Ovum analyst Tim Renowden believes that Apple's new product is in a different position.
"In order to succeed, the iPad must attract third parties to build on Apple's solid user experience and make a compelling case for tablet computing," he said.
"Unlike Apple's previous breakout hits - the iPhone and iPod - the iPad is attempting to invent a set of consumer behaviours, rather than solve an evident design or technology problem."
Renowden identified several factors that will influence the iPad's success in the coming year, and believes that the device could still act as the "spearhead for a new category of simplified portable devices built around large-format touch screens".
The touch interface is already a familiar and popular feature of the iPhone, and tablet computing in general is expected to reach unprecedented highs this year.
Apple needs to position the iPad as the future of touch-screen tablet computing, and tether this to paid-for content delivery models in conjunction with publishers like News Corp, according to Renowden.
"As publishers move away from ad funded-only digital models and experiment with charging for content, the iPad offers the opportunity to package media in application and digital edition form and differentiate the product," he said.
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