Apple iPad with Cameras Expected in 2011


Apple's iPad is reportedly getting a camera feature in the new year, and the computer maker is looking to sell 36 million of the tablet devices in 2011, according to a Reuters report.

But as Apple (AAPL) heads into the final stretch of the critical holiday shopping season, this latest report of a front and rear-facing camera iPad could take a toll on sales of the tablet computer. Folks may be willing to accept a quasi-rain check under the tree, if it means getting an iPad with camera capabilities a few months down the road.

That would be bad news for Apple, which already disappointed Wall Street with its iPad sales in its last quarter. During its fiscal fourth quarter, Apple sold 4.2 million of the devices when some analysts were expecting in excess of 5 million.

But Gleacher & Co. analyst Brian Marshall doesn't expect Apple's holiday iPad sales to be affected by the recent reports of a new camera-loaded iPad.

"Instant Gratification" May Mean That Some Can't Wait

"People want instant gratification, so I don't think these reports will affect holiday sales," Marshall said, noting he expects Apple to sell 6 million units during the December quarter. "I expect the iPad 2 to be launched sometime in the April time frame."

He noted that Apple will likely want to save an iPhone-CDMA-coming-to-Verizon announcement for the March quarter, which leaves an iPad announcement for the spring.

Production for Apple's next iPad is expected to begin in the first quarter and feature a dual camera set up similar to its iPhone 4, as well as an enhanced resolution display, according to the Reuters report. Apple may be taking a page from its iPhone 4's Retina display. Additionally, the next iPad version is expected to be slimmer and lighter than the previous version, according to the report.

Speculation that Apple would develop a tablet computer with a camera surfaced as Apple Founder Steve Jobs was preparing to unveil the iPad last year, as well as following his keynote.

Meanwhile, in late October, Barron's posted a blog noting that OmniVision would pony up image sensors for the next iPad. The Barron's report, citing a research note from investment company Detwiler Fenton, said the dual camera-touting iPad would feature a five-mega-pixel camera and a VGA camera.

Although Marshall expects Apple strong iPad sales in the December quarter, he doesn't expect the arrival of iPad camera features to jack up future sales dramatically. Marshall anticipates Apple will sell 5.1 million units in the March quarter, 5.6 million in the June quarter, 6 million units in the September quarter and 8.3 million in the December quarter next year.