Apple could double the number of iPads it sold to date in 2013 alone, with close to 200 million iPhones sold in the same upcoming 12-month period, according to Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley.
Writing in Forbes, Walkley noted that Samsung would storm ahead selling more than 300 million smartphones in the same period. However, Apple will likely retain the lead in the tablet market share over Amazon's 10.7 million tablet sales and Samsung's 8.4 million tablet sales in 2013.
But the Cupertino, CA.-based technology giant said earlier this month at the launch of the iPad mini in California that it had sold only 100 million iPads in the two-and-a-half years the tablet has been on sale.
Analysts said the 100 million iPad sales milestone showed a slower pace of sales than previously expected. It begs the question: where will the next 100 million iPad sales come from in the next year alone?
It has to be China, surely?
Apple chief executive Tim Cook said on the Q4 earnings call that China generated 15 percent of Apple's total revenues, but for a population of more than 1.3 billion people, Apple could be doing better to target that emerging market. He also confirmed that the iPhone 5 is on track to arrive in China during the December quarter.
However, holding Apple back in the region is the lack of retail stores. Apple only has six stores in mainland China and a further two stores in China-owned Hong Kong. Apple retail chief John Browett was only this week booted from the company -- possibly as a result of recent spats between Apple retail store staff in which the company had to apologize, but also because of the slow growth into a burgeoning market and booming economy.
Meanwhile, in September at the iPhone 5 launch, Cook said Apple had sold more than 400 million iOS devices to date -- including iPads, iPhones and iPod touch devices -- but failed to disclose how many iPhones had been sold separately to date. Analysts expect a median forecast of around 27 million iPhones in the last quarter alone.
Totting that figure up, 27 million per quarter accounts for approximately 108 million iPhone sales. But again, the only way Apple can make this figure is if it marches into China with a convoy of trucks ready to dish out the smartphone en masse.
It's entirely possible that Apple can maintain growth in its iPhone division if momentum maintains over this next year. There likely won't be a next-generation iPhone until June--September next year according to historical release schedules. However, iPad mini sales may increase numbers on the whole but at a cost of Apple's profits -- which currently stands at 36 percent gross margin -- thanks to the internal cannibalization of larger iPad 2 (non-Retina display) and iPad 4 (with Retina) display.
But crucially, Apple has to make good on its promise to jump into China otherwise those numbers will never happen.