The iPad juggernaut is gaining momentum

The iPad has been a huge hit since before its actual release with large numbers of pre-orders exceeding Apple’s expectations and forcing back shipping dates.  While Apple’s manufacturing partners seem to have finally been able to make production meet demand at an estimated 2 million units per month, Apple is rumored to be pushing production even further to 3 million.

It took Apple about 80 days to sell over 3 million units, but if analysts are to be believed they are now doing that in just 45 days and may be trying to bring it down to a single month.  It seems that no matter what devices are rumored, previewed or even released, none has an impact on iPad sales.

If you consider it carefully, no competing device is likely to pose a real challenge to the iPad for quite some time.  Apple has an incredible lead in the user experience and application area.  The closest competitor in this real is Google with its Android platform which suffers, however, with the fact that it hasn’t yet been adapted to a tablet format.

Research in Motion has recently introduced its Playbook tablet which has similar dimensions to Samsung’s product, both of which are smaller than the iPad and have a slightly lower definition while tending more towards a widescreen format.  Neither of these products seems to be positioned to undercut the iPad in pricing and considering that they will be at a disadvantage in screen size and application availability I don’t see them as having much of a chance to entice many users in the short term.

As these devices come into the market and fail to make a significant dent on the iPad’s sales they will tend to confirm that the iPad is the way to go for some of the people that have been adopting a wait and see posture towards getting a tablet. As the iPad broke the 3 million units sold mark, in 80 days, analysts started to predict that Apple might sell as many as 10 million units in 2010.  Now this number is going up to 12 million units or even higher, but its in the predictions for 2011 that things are really shifting fast.

With the rumor that Apple is working to push production to 3 million units per month, the prediction of 28 million units to be sold next year, which was considered a high mark, suddenly started to look positively anemic. After all, basic math would suggest that Apple was aiming for 36 million.

Today an analyst that has been talking to parts suppliers in China mentioned to Forbes that a supplier was expecting to ship parts for up to 13 million iPads in the second half of 2010 and as many as 45 million devices in 2011.  When you consider Apple might be aiming for 3 million units per month right now, this absurdly high number seems a bit less absurd.

While we talk about sales projects in the 30 to 40 million units range for the iPad in 2011, I will be very surprised to see any of the competing products so far announced reaching a multi-million units sales mark.  With such a lead it is hard to see any one product really challenging the iPad’s market share.

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