Apple will sell 55 million iPads this year, with sales driven by a 'significant' upgrade in the shape of the iPad 3, an analyst has predicted.
Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee issued a note to investors, picked up by Apple Insider, saying that the third-generation iPad - which is expected to be unveiled next week - will have a Retina display, Siri voice recognition and 4G capabilities.
Wu believes that the 4G connectivity - based on the LTE (long-term evolution) standard - will be the most significant of the new features, differentiating it from many Android-based tablets and the Kindle Fire.
However, it's worth noting that though 4G is a significant addition in the US, where handset makers and network operators market the high-speed wireless standard heavily, it isn't yet universally available. So while it may be a key selling point in the US, it won't be in the UK - not initially, at least.
According to Wu, Apple will have addressed battery life issues caused by the power-hungry LTE chip due to the company's "ownership of core intellectual property including systems design, semiconductors, battery chemistry, and software".
Wu had initially projected that Apple would sell 51 million iPads in 2012, though has now pushed this figure up by four million. Ten million of these sales will be in the first quarter with production of the new model ramped up in Q2.