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Analysts: Plenty Of Warm Feelings For iPad

3/26/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

NEW YORK – Reports that the latest iPad gets very
warm to the touch and rapidly plows through users’
4G data caps won’t affect sales of the tablet if history
is any guide, analysts say.

Some point to the 2010 brouhaha over the iPhone
4’s cellular reception, which dropped off significantly
when users touched the phone’s wrap-around antenna
at a certain point. The smartphone went on to break
iPhone sales records.

In its first three days of availability in the U.S. and 10
other countries, Apple said it sold 3 million units and
called the launch its “strongest iPad launch yet.” The
company, however, was making an apples-to-oranges
comparison because for last year’s iPad 2 launch, the
tablet was available only in the U.S. during its first two
weeks on the market. During the first weekend of iPad
2 availability in the U.S., about 500,000 units were
sold, analysts have estimated.

As for sales of the latest iPad, analysts don’t expect
any hiccups from the latest reports of drawbacks.

“Over the past two years, I have played with probably
a hundred tablets,” said Peter King, Strategy Analytics
director of tablet and touchscreen strategies.
“Some get warm, some get hot.” Online forums “are
full of stories of heating problems and how to fix them,
but for now at least, the problem seems manageable.
Only time will tell whether this becomes a massive problem for Apple — in the interim, iPad hogs the
headlines still.”

As for swift 4G connections deterring consumers
from buying the 4G-equipped iPad, King said, “I would
have thought that anyone who purchased a 4G LTE
iPad in the first few days was more than aware of the
pitfalls and advantages of LTE, or for that matter, most
data plans.” Research shows that people who buy cellular-
equipped iPads “would not go back to a Wi-Fionly
device.” Because the vast majority of tablet usage
is in the home, he continued, “common sense dictates
that wherever possible, users will switch to Wi-Fi in
their own home or in hotspots when away from home,
thereby keeping cellular bills to a minimum.”

For his part, NPD Connected Intelligence executive
director Ross Rubin pointed out that 4G tablet
owners may be hitting their data caps more quickly
because “the faster the cellular data speed, the better
the experience is and the more likely customers are
to use it, driving bandwidth consumption.” Consumers
are more likely to want to stream video on the latest
iPad, given its fast cellular connection, quad-core
graphics processor, 2,048 by 1,536–pixel HD display
with pixel density of 264 pixels per inch, he noted.

Consumers “just have to learn more about matching
their needs to their plans,” Rubin said. “We’ve
seen this before with other kinds of cellular-bill
shock.”

Likewise, Rubin said, “it is doubtful that the Consumer
Reports report will do much to hinder iPad
sales, much as its antenna research did little to hinder
iPhone 4 sales.”

IHS iSuppli senior principal analyst Francis Sideco
also doesn’t expect either issue to hinder sales. Sideco
doesn’t believe the heat buildup is greater than would be
expected given the device’s increased number of LED
backlights, quad-core graphics processor, high-resolution
display, and larger battery to drive them. “If heat is
not uncomfortable to touch, the bigger issue will be battery
life” and whether the latest iPad delivers the same
amount of battery life as the iPad 2 as promised, he said.

Sideco was also quick to point out that 4G is not
to blame for users hitting data caps sooner than they
did with 3G. A 5MB PowerPoint download consumes
5MB of a 2GB data plan whether downloaded via
3G or 4G network, though over a 4G network, the
download will be faster, he said. If 4G iPad users are
blowing through their plans more quickly than before,
“it’s because the user behavior is changing to take
advantage of faster speeds and lower latencies” to
do such things as streaming more video, he said.

Rubin noted, however, that watching the same video
over 4G could consume a lot more data than over
3G.

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