New iPad could boost content provider stocks

Will Apple's tablet help save video games?

By Wall St. Cheat Sheet Mar 13, 2012 12:52PM
Apple's (AAPL) new iPad has been unveiled, and it is "resolutionary." The screen has an improved retina display, with 2048 x 1536 or 3.1 million pixels. It has a higher screen resolution than Microsoft's (MSFT) Xbox 360 and four times the resolution of the iPad 2.  

Although much of the speculation around the new iPad has eased, investors are wondering how other companies will capitalize on Apple's new screen.

With the upgrade, the new iPad will be the only tablet to support 1080p high-definition at its full resolution. This advantage could boost the popularity of video content from companies like Netflix (NFLX). 

Martin Pyykkonen, senior analyst at Wedge Partners, explains, "I think Netflix actually benefits from this, because the new iPad is going to look much more like a high-def tv, compared to standard def. I think it will help them retain customers." In addition to the new iPad, Netflix may attract more customers through Apple TV. Customers will now be able to sign up for Netflix directly on the Apple TV. Furthermore, users can pay for the streaming service on iTunes.

Pyykkonen also believes major content providers such as Time Warner (TWX), Disney (DIS) and CBS Corp. (CBS) will also benefit from the new iPad. When you have high-def content "so much closer, all of those content owners are going to win." Walt Disney chief Bob Iger embraced the original iPad from day one. He attended the unveiling event and announced content deals shortly after, as he saw the iPad as a way to create new forms of content.

According to market researcher NPD Group, U.S. retail sales of video games dropped 20% in February to $1.06 billion, compared to $1.33 billion a year earlier. However, NPD analyst Anita Frazier estimates that people spent an additional $550 million to $600 million on acquiring video content outside of brick-and-mortar retail stores. This includes spending on mobile games and video-game downloads. The trend of mobile gaming is likely to continue as more people find enjoyment playing cheaper and better-looking tablet games. Companies like Electronic Arts (EA), Activision Blizzard (ATVI) and Zynga (ZNGA) stand to benefit as the new iPad's screen and quad-core graphics chip mesmerizes gamers. 

Shortly after the new iPad was unveiled, EA announced, "We're already working on versions of Mass Effect Infiltrator and Real Racing 2 among other games that will take full advantage of the new iPad's capabilities -- expect even more stunning graphics and intense action."

The tablet market is booming, with many predicting that one-third of the U.S. adult population will own a tablet by 2016. Despite advancements in tablets made by Samsung, Sony (SNE) and Toshiba, Apple still controls around 70% of the tablet market. Tablets using Google's (GOOG) Android software tend to be more affordable than iPads, but have been inconsistently branded. Meanwhile, Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble's (BKS) Nook tablet are far behind Apple in terms of market share.

(Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

More from Wall St. Cheat Sheet

Eric McWhinnie is an editor at Wall St. Cheat Sheet. As of this writing, he did not own a position in any of the aforementioned stocks.



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