More Apple iPads will wind up in the hands of consumers than was previously expected, according to an Oct. 18 report from research firm iSuppli.
The news follows Apple's fourth-quarter earnings announcement on Oct. 18. During the report, Apple executives said the company shipped 4.2 million iPads during the three months ending Sept. 25, indicating, said the market research firm, that Apple has gotten past the shortage of supplies that earlier prevented it from ratcheting up its numbers.
"In its previous iPad forecasts, iSuppli noted that the only constraint on shipment growth now is production - and not demand," iSuppli's Rhoda Alexander said in a statement. "The only factor limiting production is the availability of key iPad components, such as the Field Fringe Switching (FFS) LCD panels, projected capacitive touch screens and NAND flash. Despite ongoing yield issues, Apple's suppliers have steadily increased monthly production to meet Apple's demand."
iSuppli has increased its forecasts for the tablet to 13.8 million units for 2010, up from its July outlook of 12.9 million. By year's end, it additionally expects Apple's iPad production rate to reach 2.5 million units per month, if not more.
"Production rates are now on target to meet the expected strong fourth-quarter sales," said Alexander.
Even with several competing tablet products expected to be on store shelves in time for holiday shopping, iSuppli expects to see iPad sales rise considerably and has increased its previous forecasts for the next several years. Shipments for 2011 are now expected to reach 43.7 million units, up from 36.5 million, and 2012 figures are expected to reach 63.3 million units, up from 50.4 million.
Added to consumer enthusiasm, iSuppli attributes the anticipated growth to smart retailing on Apple's part.
"In addition to its traditional channels, Apple now is expanding to sell the iPad through new retailers, including Amazon, Target, Verizon and Wal-Mart," Alexander said. "Apple has moved more rapidly than expected to push the iPad out to new retailers, which will give it maximum retail presence during the critical holiday sales period."
While Apple has yet to offer deals to students and educators, as it does with its computers, the firm expects to see such incentives arrive in 2011 - and further encourage sales.
"As usage increases in primary education, expect increased interest from students' other family members, young and old," states the report.
ABI Research, in an Oct. 15 report, put iPad sales expectations for 2010 at 11 million units. It added that sales of Apple's iPad, as well as the promise of additional tablet products, have slowed the once "meteoric" growth rate of netbooks, shipments of which are expected to total 43 million units by year's end.
During Apple's Oct. 18 earnings call, CEO Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance and not only talked up the iPad but expressed doubts about the viability of pending competitor products.
"We think we have a very good product here that's hard to match, and we're not done," Jobs told media and analysts on the call. He added later, "Almost all [competing devices] use 7-inch screens as opposed to the iPad's almost 10-inch screen," he said. "You would think a 7-inch screen would offer 70 percent of the benefit of a 10-inch screen. But if you compare the diagonal lengths of a 7-inch and 10-inch screen [you find the former is] only 45 percent as large."
Apple is expected to introduce a new iPad in the next few months.