Apple's iPad 3 to Boost Mac Sales as 'Halo' Widens

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CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- With the iPad 3 likely to debut next week, attention is focused the effect on Apple's(AAPL) booming tablet revenue. But the tech giant could also receive a Mac boost.

"The Mac should continue to gain market share because of the halo effects emanating from the iPhone and iPad," said Needham & Co. analyst Charles Wolf, in a note before Apple confirmed plans to hold a new product event next week.

The phrase "halo effect" refers to consumers buying one product, such as Apple's iPod, and then graduating to other offerings from the same manufacturer, such as the iPhone, iPad and Mac.

Apple sold a record 15.4 million iPads during its recent fiscal first quarter, up from 7.3 million in the same period a year earlier. The tech company, however, also enjoyed record 5.2 million Mac sales, up from 4.3 million Macs.

Wolf notes that the iPhone and iPad halo effects have driven Mac sales in the home market, as well as in corporate America, where the Apple computers are squeezing Microsoft(MSFT) Windows PCs. "The iPad should have a positive impact on Mac sales in this market," he said. "Once mobile professions get hooked on the iPad, we think it's only a short step to replacing Windows PCs."

The analyst adds that concerns about the iPad cannibalizing Macs are overblown. "Mac sales in the home market have continued to rise while sales of Windows notebook PCs have stalled," he wrote. "We believe the iPad is undoubtedly cannibalizing some Mac sales -- but it appears to be cannibalizing PC sales a lot more."

The blogosphere has been rife with rumors of the likely features on the new iPad 3 . There has been talk, for example, that the tablet will offer 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) capabilities, running on high-speed networks from both AT&T(T) and Verizon(VZ) . Other possible features could include a Retina display, similar to the iPhone 4, Siri technology, similar to the iPhone 4S, an updated processor and longer battery life.

"Our supply chain checks indicate that this iPad refresh will likely be a significant one with beefed-up specs including a higher resolution screen, much faster processor, Siri software, and 4G LTE wireless," said Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee, in a note released Wednesday. "We view the potential inclusion of 4G LTE as key with speeds approaching that of a quality personal computer experience."

Wu raised his 2012 forecast for iPad shipments from 51 million to 55 million. The analyst also raised his Apple price target from $550 to $620.

Apple has sold more than 55 million iPads since introducing the tablet in early 2010.

Shares of Apple, which recent hit a new high, were up $7.37, or 1.38%, to $542.78 on Wednesday.