In a note to clients — as reported by “AppleInsider” ( — Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu says the third generation iPad 3, expected to be unveiled on March 7, at an Apple special event — will drive sales of 55 million in 2012.

He says that, per his checks with (unnamed) industry sources, the iPad 3 will be a “significant” hardware update with a Retina Display, Siri voice recognition and 4G LTE connectivity. Wu believes the inclusion of 4G long-term evolution data connectivity will be the key feature.

The analyst says his sources say Apple has made “notable progress” in improving battery life with 4G LTE devices. Power consumption issues with the high-speed wireless standard have been an issue for some of the first LTE smartphones to hit the market.