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High Resolution iPad3 Coming In February: Analyst

Thursday, 8 Dec 2011 | 3:31 PM ET
Apple iPad
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Apple iPad

The iPad3 will be released in February with a high-resolution screen, a new selling point for the entertainment and productivity device that will drive Apple shares up 27 percent to $500 in 12 months, according to an analyst with Citi Investment Research.

“Current iPad builds are up sequentially in 1CQ12 (the current quarter) thanks to the February launch of a new iPad with double the screen resolution of the current model,” wrote Richard Gardner in a note to clients. “Several sources have confirmed the timing of this launch and there do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining.”

iPad2’s current display is 132 pixels per inch. A doubling of that resolution would put it well ahead of the current displays for Amazon.com's Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's Nook, which sport tech specs of 169 pixels per inch each. (Note: Their screens are 7 inches, compared to 9.7 inches for the iPad2.)

Another reason for Gardner’s bullishness is that he believes there will be an upside surprise in iPhone shipments this quarter on strong holiday demand. Apple shares rose as the rest of the market fell Thursday, in part because of Citi’s bullish note.

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Still some investors have their doubts that the iPad can maintain its tablet supremacy without more bells and whistles than just a better screen for watching movies, playing games and reading books.

“Apple will not be able to continue to get away with this ‘evolutionary’ $500 tablet thing for much longer as very good and much cheaper products like Amazon’s Fire at $200 are available,” wrote Dan Nathan, an investor and editor of RiskReversal.com.

Still, the growth numbers for the iPad brand have been more than impressive. The original iPad, launched in April 2010, sold 3 million units in its first 80 days, making it the most quickly adopted non-phone electronic product ever. Last quarter, the Apple sold 11.1 million iPad2s, a 166 percent jump from the same period a year ago.

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