Asian components suppliers say Apple could ship between 40 and 45 million iPads in 2011—as much as 15 million more than generally forecast by analysts, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White said Thursday.
White told Apple Insider that he had previously heard such bullish figures from Asian sources last year. But "at the time, this number was difficult for many investors and some in the media to get their head around."
Ticonderoga Securities had previously projected 2011 global unit shipments for the iPad and iPad 2 in the neighborhood of 31 million while Needham & Company has set the number at 30 million and RBC Capital Markets puts it at 28 million.
Industry research firm IDC is currently forecasting total worldwide media tablet shipments of 50.4 million for 2011 including "more than 30 million unit shipments of the iPad," said media tablet analyst Susan Kevorkian.
IDC's total media tablet figure includes devices running non-iOS operating systems like Google's Android, Hewlett-Packard's WebOS and Research in Motion's BlackBerry Tablet OS—though such products have largely been eclipsed by the iPad to date or else aren't set to be released until later in the year.
IDC forecasts global media tablet shipments of 70.8 million units in 2012.
White's account of his talks with components suppliers in Taiwan and China punctuated a whirlwind of media tablet fanfare, leaks and rumors over the past several days—not all of it iPad-centric.
Earlier this week, IDC and Gartner both attributed a first-quarter year-over-year decline in worldwide PC shipments in part to the rise of media tablets as competition for consumers' dollars.
Meanwhile, a leaked version of the WebOS 3.0 SDK offered a sneak peek at the long-awaited first-generation TouchPad tablet which HP will reportedly release in the summer. RIM's first tablet, the BlackBerry PlayBook, will go on sale next week.
Intel's media tablet efforts were also in the news Thursday. The chip giant this week began shipping its new Atom-based "Oak Trail" hardware platform for tablets and netbooks with support for the Android 3.0 Honeycomb operating system.
Now comes a report from DigiTimes that Intel and Google will announce a joint Android 3.0 tablet initiative called "PRC Plus" in the third quarter of 2011 "after nearly half a year of negotiations," according to unnamed sources at notebook manufacturers.
Additionally, Intel will begin offering tablet makers a $10 subsidy for each Intel-based tablet they make, according to the unconfirmed DigiTimes report.
Intel has struggled to date to position its x86-based chips against the ARM-based chips that makers of smartphones and media tablets have almost exclusively used in products currently on the market.
By Carl W. Brooks