iPad growth seen slowing in 2012, but that’s no disaster

ipad 2 feature

Apple might not have as impressive a year in 2012 in terms of iPad growth as it did in 2011, according to some early predictions. Numbers from DisplaySearch (via Digitimes) on Friday indicate 9.7-inch flat panel shipments for iPads are expected to hit around 65 million in 2012, representing a relatively modest 35-percent increase over an estimated 48 million shipped in 2011.

Between 2010 — when the iPad was introduced — and 2011, Apple iPad shipments soared from 17 million to the estimated 48 million mentioned above. That’s an increase of 182 percent, but the situation was completely different: Apple’s iPad was introduced three months into 2010, and the market was almost completely untested. By the end of the year, it was pretty clear the iPad was here to stay, so consumers felt confident this wasn’t just a fad.

In 2012, Apple faces competition from low-cost devices like the Amazon’s Kindle Fire. That alone probably won’t be enough to take the winds out of its sails, but it could stop Apple from having another year ruling the tablet landscape without a credible competitor in sight.

Projected growth of 35 percent is also just that: projected. Back in late 2010, Wall Street predicted Apple would sell 28 million iPads in 2011 (though later estimates offered more realistic estimates). Apple still has a new iPad to unveil this year, which could boast QXGA 2,048 x 1,536 resolution screens, which DisplaySearch believes will likely be provided by LG, Samsung and Sharp. It’s hard to predict what demand for a Retina Display iPad will be, and how keeping an iPad 2 on the shelves as a lower-cost option might affect shipment volume, should that rumor turn out to be true.

Plus, even if Apple just meets the 65-million mark predicted by DisplaySearch, that will still represent a volume just 30 million shy of 2011’s worldwide PC shipments from all manufacturers combined.

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