Apple's iPad: A year to gain steam and breakout in 2011?

Analysts say that they expect a measured adoption curve for Apple's iPad with sales momentum accelerating in 2011.

Analysts say that they expect a measured adoption curve for Apple's iPad with sales momentum accelerating in 2011.

Apple on Wednesday unveiled the iPad, a 10" tablet aimed at both the netbook and e-reader markets. The pricing of the iPad---starting at $499---was lower than many folks expected. That lower pricing, which was designed to get the device into as many hands as possible, is likely to mean higher shipments in 2010 and more adoption in 2011.

Special Report: Meet the iPad: $499 and up

Techmeme, Apple statement

In a research note, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said:

The pricing is lower than we were expecting. We are raising our estimates for the first calendar year of sales from 2m to 3m-4m vs. an anticipated Street consensus number of 4m-5m. We have measured enthusiasm for the device's first year (2010), but we expect 2011 to be a breakout year for the iPad adding $4.6b (7.5%) to revenue in CY11.

In other words, Munster is expecting some skepticism about the iPad despite today's initial enthusiasm. Munster said the device is targeting the "casual computing market" between the iPhone and MacBook. In reality, the iPad is likely to ding sales of the iPod touch.

After using the iPad, we believe it will cannibalize iPod touch sales, but not Mac sales. The gadget is a premium mobile device, not a computer; as such, we see some iPod touch buyers stepping up to the iPad, but consumers looking for an affordable portable computer will likely stick with the MacBook lineup.

In other words, Munster expects a lot of consumers to ask why they need a tweener device.

Phil Cusick, an analyst at Macquarie Research, considers the iPad to be an incremental device for many users. He's projecting 5 million iPad units in 2010.

Also: Video: 60 seconds with the iPad