It’s time to start placing your bets on how many iPads (s aapl) Apple will sell in 2012. Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu is starting things off with an estimate of 48 million, he told AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski Wednesday morning. Wu says that number could end up being “conservative,” and I agree.
Here’s why Wu says he thinks the iPad will continue to be a hot-seller in 2012:
We believe this significant refresh will likely help drive higher iPad sales and help further differentiate from arguably the only real competitor in the market, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, (s amzn) and not to mention the myriad of Android (s goog) offerings out there. We are currently modeling 48 million iPad shipments for calendar 2012.
DisplaySearch has already said it estimates 48 million iPad display panels were shipped in 2011. Now, display shipments doesn’t necessarily equal iPad shipments (owing to repairs, replacements, defective stock, etc.) but Apple’s own reported numbers put its iPad sales for its financial year in 2011 at around 32.4 million. An increase of 16 million would certainly be in line with the iPad’s sales growth between 2010, when it sold 14.8 million worldwide, and 2011, but if Apple’s quarterly sales continue to gain steam the way they did in 2011, we could indeed see much bigger increases, especially if the iPad 2 remains available as a low-cost option.