* Shares hit record soon after first iPad sold
* Teardown shows same key suppliers as for earlier model
* iPad3 seen as series or improvements, not major innovation
By Pauline Askin and Noel Randewich
SYDNEY/SAN FRANCISCO March 16 Apple's
new iPad proved to be another hot-seller on Friday,
with hundreds queueing before dawn in Sydney to be the first to
get their hands on the 4G-ready tablet computer as the company's
share price hit $600 for the first time.
As consumers lined up around city streets to buy the iPad 3,
one firm that took the device apart said Qualcomm,
Broadcom, and Samsung Electronics had all
held onto their prized roles as key parts suppliers.
Apple's own outlets were beaten to the punch for the first
store sales by Australian phone company Telstra, which
started selling in Sydney and Melbourne just after midnight,
eight hours before Apple's flagship stores opened.
David Tarasenko, a 34-year-old construction manager who was
the first to pick up the iPad from Telstra, said ever since
Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook revealed the tablet's third
iteration, he couldn't wait to get one.
"When Tim Cook announced it, it sounded like such a magical
tool. I just got hyped into it, I guess," he said.
Others were happy to wait for the Apple flagship Sydney
store to open, and by morning the queue outside had snaked
around a city block.
"I've come from Hong Kong because this model is not
available in Hong Kong. The features are very revolutionary,"
second-in-queue Bob Cheung told Reuters.
"I've got the first one and I skipped the second one. This
is a big difference form the first one. The processing speed,
memory, graphical capabilities and everything like that," said
another customer, Michael Kelly.
Crowds were down on previous Apple launches, but there was
still excitement as stores opened. The buzz helped propel its
shares to record highs in U.S. trade on Thursday, with Apple
stock touching a high of $600.01 before easing back.
It peaked half an hour after the first iPad went on sale in
Australia, extending the market worth of the world's most
valuable company to almost $560 billion. Only a month earlier,
it had crossed $500. The stock has jumped 45 percent this year.
At the closing price of $585.56, the stock is still more
expensive than the $499 starting price for a Wi-Fi-only iPad.
WAITING IT OUT
Apart from Australia, the new iPad is going on sale on Friday
in nine other countries, including the United States, Canada,
Singapore, France and Britain.
Elsewhere around the globe, diehards had already begun lining
up in front of Apple stores in Munich, Paris, London, Singapore
and Hong Kong.
Wall Street expects a strong start for the latest iPad and
some analysts even expect sales of the current model to overtake
the iPad 2. Apple will continue to sell the iPad 2 but dropped
its price by $100 to start at $399.
Apple may sell 65.6 million iPads, according to an estimate
by Canaccord Genuity analysts who also raised their target price
on Apple stock to $710 from $665.
So far, the company has sold 55 million iPads since it was
launched in 2010.
Tablet sales are expected to increase to 326 million by 2015
with Apple largely dominating the market, according to research
firm Gartner. The iPad competes with Samsung Electronic's Galaxy
and Motorola's Xyboard, among others.
IMPROVEMENT NOT INNOVATION
The third-generation iPad is seen more as a collection of
incremental improvements, such as a high-definition "retina"
display and a better camera, rather than a major innovation.
The inner workings of the iPad are similar to previous
models, based on a "teardown" by a tinkerer from California
gadget-repair firm iFixit, who queued up in Australia to get one
of the new tablets and quickly took it apart for a Web blog.
iFixit cofounder Luke Soules' pre-dawn teardown at a
Melbourne computer shop found Apple suppliers Qualcomm, Broadcom
and Samsung had maintained their key roles in the newest iPad.
The iPad includes a Qualcomm LTE cellphone chip and a
Qualcomm wireless modem for 3G and 4G. Broadcom supplies a
semiconductor handling wireless tasks like WiFi and Bluetooth,
according to iFixit.
The iPad's new A5X application processor, with improved
graphics horsepower, is based on energy-efficient technology
licensed from Britain's ARM Holding and is manufactured by
Qualcomm, as in past Apple devices.
Supplying parts for Apple's iPhones and iPads, the
industry's gold standards, is considered a coup for chipmakers
and other manufacturers. But Apple doesn't disclose which
company makes the components that go into its smartphones, and
insists its suppliers keep quiet.
Analysts recommend caution in drawing conclusions from the
teardowns because Cupertino, California-based Apple sometimes
uses more than one supplier for a part. What is found in one
iPad may not be found in others.
Still, teardowns remain a key source of information for
investors interested in betting on Apple's suppliers, and the
appearance of unexpected chips can move stocks.
"There are a whole lot of hedge funds out there that like to
shoot first and ask questions later," said Alex Gauna, an
analyst at JMP who covers technology stocks.
iFixit said the iPad's display appears to be from Samsung.
A NAND flash memory chip, used to store media like music and
video, is supplied by Toshiba. Japan's Elpida
provides the DRAM chips.
The iPad teardown also revealed chips from Avago
Technologies, Triquint Semiconductor and