Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) Monday started notifying its customers in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Italy that it would hold its annual one-day shopping event on Friday, a day after Thanksgiving, at its retail stores and on online store.
Barclays Capital said typically this event ushers in one-day only discounts for iPads, iPods and Macs, which help catalyze sales into calendar year-end.
This year, we expect the focus on the Black Friday weekend in the U.S. to be more intense given concerns around iPad demand and the need for iPhones to drive upside in the quarter in order to beat street expectations, said Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital.
That said, Reitzes believes that it is extremely important to note that his checks overseas point toward very strong sales momentum for Apple in all products.
Even Europe and especially Asia - China in particular - seem to be generating sales at a record pace for Apple. Interest in iPhone 4S, new stores, iPad and Mac all seem to be growing faster overseas while the US is getting all the attention, said Reitzes.
Last year, Reitzes thought Apple's Black Friday specials were not too aggressive, but this year he could see slightly better deals from Apple and third party resellers, who typically piggy back on the holiday push.
In 2010, U.S. customers were able to get $101-off on MacBook Pro, MacBook Air and iMacs; $41-off on the first-generation iPad; $21-off on the iPod touch and $11-off on the iPod nano for the day. Other small discounts were available for accessories such as keyboards, trackpads and mice, said Reitzes.
He has recently been more vocal about Apple needing to stimulate sales of the iPad more into year-end given that consumers are looking at more (but ultimately inferior) product choices this holiday season.
He also has postulated before that it may make sense for Apple to get more aggressive promoting accessories that facilitate keyboard docking for the iPad, which allows the tablet to quickly double as a PC.
We believe that keyboard docks for the iPad need to become more compelling over time (i.e. cheaper, with touch pad integration) for the category to continue its rapid growth and take an even bigger bite out of the PC market, said Reitzes.
The brokerage currently estimates iPad unit sales of 13.9 million for the first quarter (December), which may prove optimistic, depending on how sales accelerate upon Black Friday.
Apple stock closed Wednesday's regular trading down 2.53 percent at $366.99 on the NASDAQ Stock Market.