Apple iPad Shipments Could Top 65 Million in 2011: Report

Apple iPad shipments could top out at 65 million in 2011, according to an estimate from DigiTimes, but an analyst is warning of potential dangers for Apple ahead.

Apple iPad panel shipments will top 65 million units in 2011, estimates DigiTimes. However, another analyst suggests that the iPad's continuing success could start to affect the market for other Apple products, notably the Mac and iPhone.

DigiTimes' 65-million-units figure comes from the combined estimates for Apple's iPad parts suppliers, including LG Display, Samsung and Chimei Innolux (CMI). "Market players noted that the 65 million unit shipment goal indicates that Apple is very optimistic about the tablet PC market in 2011, and it may also mean that Apple is overbooking panel capacity," reads a Dec. 29 report on the publication's Website. The estimate includes both first-generation and second-generation iPads, the latter of which has yet to make an official appearance despite increasingly fervent conjecture.

However, at least one analyst feels the iPad's blockbuster sales have the potential to negatively impact Apple's product line.

"The iPad has successfully integrated the functionality of a slimmed-down notebook into a media player form factor and has effectively rendered a significant portion of the Mac (and potentially the iPhone) product family obsolete," Brian Marshall, an analyst with Gleacher & Company, wrote in a Dec. 29 research note. "This presents a serious problem as iPhones and Macs generated 65 percent of Apple's total revenue in CY09."

Moreover, Apple's long-term strategy of capitalizing on a "first mover" advantage, in which it tries to define new markets via innovative products, could also backfire at some future point.

"If Apple is unable to continue designing leading-edge consumer products for mass markets, this would clearly negatively impact the financial model and result in a lower target price for Apple shares," Marshall added. "In our view, Steve Jobs is the -guiding light' and visionary leader crucial to the continued product innovation at Apple."

In a bid to preserve its dominance of the tablet market in 2011, Apple is reportedly preparing its next-generation iPad for unveiling sometime in January. On Dec. 10, Reuters posted an article suggesting that front- and rear-facing camera modules would appear on that device, along with a higher-resolution screen. That might help blunt increased competition on a number of tablet fronts, including the growing family of Android-based devices and Research In Motion's PlayBook, a 7-inch tablet focused primarily on the enterprise. Microsoft is also reportedly planning a series of Windows-powered tablets in conjunction with Intel's upcoming release of its Oak Trail processor, which will supposedly provide better battery life for lightweight devices.