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Summary:

Apple has started selling iPads in non-Apple stores. Demand for iPhone 4 is at an all-time high, and the newly updated iPod touches are flying off the shelf. Add AppleTV to the mix, and you can see Apple on verge of a blockbuster quarter.

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Earlier this week, Apple’s (a AAPL) stock crossed $300 a share. It’s now the biggest technology company in terms of market capitalization, and it might soon become the biggest in America, pushing Exxon aside. What will make it happen? A very appy holiday season. The company is becoming less of a “computer” maker and more of a gadget company, and has two hot selling products in the iPhone/iPod touch and the iPad. A third potential hit would make it a very holly-jolly holiday season for Apple.

iPads are Everywhere

According to GigaOM Pro estimates (subscription req’d), around 8 million tablets are likely to ship in 2010, and a majority of those — around 6 million — are going to be iPads. Others expect even higher sales of the iPad for the entire year. During the fourth quarter of 2010, UBS Research expects Apple to sell around 4.5 million iPads.

The recent deals from Apple to sell iPads in AT&T and Verizon (s VZ) stores are only going to help Apple get a bigger grip on the tablet market, especially as the company gears up for competition from Android-based tablets such as the upcoming Samsung Galaxy Tab.

Apple is already selling or planning to sell iPads at Best Buy, Walmart and Target, and it’s safe to say the iPad may end up one of the best-selling devices this holiday season. Apple’s iPad push into these new channels comes at an opportune time, as UBS Research analyst Maynard Um pointed out to his clients in a research note:

Supply constraints for both [iPads and iPhones] have begun to ease, a positive for Apple as we believe these products should be two of the most heavily gifted items in addition to iPods during the holiday season. Every incremental 100k iPhone/iPad[s] equate to $0.02/$0.01 of EPS.

UBS Research estimates iPhone sales of 11.3 million units during the fourth quarter. Add to those iPhone sales an estimated 9.5 million iPods during the quarter, and iOS-powered Apple products are on their way to a record-setting quarter.

I want my Apple TV

Last night, I brought home an Apple TV and plugged it into my Samsung TV and watched — what else –- a Sherlock Holmes episode before falling asleep. I was using my Netflix subscription, and it was the best Netflix experience I’ve had since… forever. It’s better than the Netflix app on Boxee running on my Mac Mini. It’s better than the integrated offering on my Samsung TV or Samsung connected Blu-ray player. It’s even better than the rock-solid implementation of Netflix on Roku.

I have no plans of renting any TV shows from Apple; I prefer to buy “Mad Men” and “House MD” for repeat viewings, but I would spend $99 just for Netflix. Much to the chagrin of my colleagues at NewTeeVee, I like Apple TV-as-a-Netflix box so much that I am going to consider giving it away as a holiday gift with a Netflix subscription to a handful of my gadget-loving friends.

Last holiday season, Stacey suggested that technology companies start thinking smartly and offer a complete solution around hot services such as Netflix or Pandora as a gift rather than making it about the gadget. To Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, here’s a suggestion: Figure out a deal with Steve Jobs, and start offering Apple TV for free in exchange when customers agree to a two-year subscription. I bet Jobs & Co., will cut you a special deal, considering there are so many new cord-cutting options on the way to the market and Apple needs an edge. According to some estimates, Apple TV has become a brisk seller -– about million units a quarter — and it can be an even bigger hit.

Now it doesn’t take a big stretch of imagination to see that the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch are going to do well, but I believe the swing-factor for Apple will be the new Apple TV device. When the final results come in early January 2011, Steve Jobs might actually send a thank you card to Santa Claus.

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub req’d):

  1. Everyone I know that’s bought an AppleTV feels the same as you. Love it.

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  2. In the US people love the iPhone and hate the AT&T network. Here in Ne Zealand we have data caps and slow broadband, so we’ll probably like our Apple TV, but hate our ISP.

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  3. Apple’s outsize market capitalization is largely based on its presumed eventual conquest in smartphones. In the face of growing competition from Android though, iPhone buyers are now mostly replacing customers, and a couple more quarters of iPhone’s stalled growth- three plateaued 2010 quarters so far, plus the problem-plagued iPhone 4 quarter, and the Apple bubble pops. It’s Windows vs Mac all over again. The iPhone isn’t going to save Apple from weakening consumer interest in the iPod. Although iPads may finally take their place beside netbooks, 15 million sold in 2008, in some outlets (where’s Costco and HSN?), tablets, aren’t mass volume devices, being largely accessory gadgets, and an optimized Android version hasn’t even been released by Google yet. The coming Google TV devices choices relegate Apple to a niche in that market also.

    Santa’s coming, alright and most of the stuff in his bag aren’t from Apple.

    Deal with Steve Jobs? Even though AT&T is making alot of money for him, Jobs isn’t admitting that iPhone’s faulty design has a part in causing all those dropped calls, and AT&T is taking the heat instead. Antennagate, and now Glassgate, aren’t so easily swept aside by Apple hype. Apparently, many iPhone app developers aren’t doing too well.

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    1. Its interesting how the Android fanboys are getting worse than the Mac zealots lately…

      Google will have to deal with hardware configuration proliferation issues if it wants to keep its momentum up. In a sense, it is worse than the hardware/software compatibility nightmares from the Windows world. What good are 100k apps if they don’t all work on all Android devices? Too confusing of a proposition for “regular” users.

      I also fundamentally have an issue with GoogleTV’s UX paradigm. As a UX/IxD designer, I have spent pretty much a decade trying to figure out the best approach to couch/living room computing through a TV – its hard and Google still hasn’t cracked it with the products from Logitech and Sony. Non-techies don’t want a QWERTY keyboard in their living room, thats a fact.

      Anyone who thinks Apple won’t add apps and a web browser to the AppleTV by next summer is in for a surprise…

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    2. Apple’s only iPhone 4 problem is that they can’t make them fast enough to meet demand. Anyone waiting for the hated Apple to come crashing down is going to have to keep waiting for a long while.

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  4. Apple iPads are really everywhere and Apple TV is awesome. I really like Apple TV.

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  5. “The company is becoming less of a “computer” maker and more of a gadget company…”

    True, its easy to be distracted by all the current hoopla over the iPad and iPhone, but make no mistake: Apple is still serious about its computer business. Over the last 10 years or so, Macs have steadily increased their popularity. Apple has recently regained in 3rd place for PCs sold. This is despite Microsoft’s stranglehold on the large enterprise market. No doubt Apple’s “gadgets” are having a halo effect with consumers

    Apple has continued to aggressively improve the Mac line, adding features like LED backlighting, long-life batteries, and large multi-touch trackpads. A press event is scheduled for next week to announce their plans for OS X. I expect big things. It’s never been a better time to be a Mac owner.

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  6. I just wish they weren’t backordered. I ordered min about a week or two ago and my ship date is not till oct 22

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