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iSuppli Raises iPad Sales Forecast

Apple is increasing production targets for the tablet computer, prompting the market research firm to boost its 2010 sales forecast by 45%.

Market researcher iSuppli has hiked its 2010 forecast for Apple iPad sales by 45%, due to indications that Apple is boosting its production targets.

Apple will ship 12.9 million units this year, with shipments rising to 36.5 million next year and 50.4 million in 2012, iSuppli said Tuesday. The researcher in April, the month Apple started shipping the tablet-style computer, predicted the company would ship 7.1 million units this year.

ISuppli analyst Rhoda Alexander said iPad demand is likely to "vastly exceed" supply.

"Apple's acceleration of its component demand indicates that the company has raised its iPad production target for 2010," Alexander said. "Our latest research indicates there is much higher production than previously expected for two key components: LCD panels and NAND flash."

iSuppli believes the only limitation on iPad sales is production. "Apple has taken a very controlled approach introducing this product to new markets, with manufacturing limitations likely being the major inhibitor on how quickly iPad sales expand," Alexander said.

iSuppli predicted that Apple would likely release a new version of the iPad next year, possibly introducing an internal camera and expansion of the product line to include additional screen sizes. Currently accounting for 84% of the market for such media devices, Apple will likely continue to dominate at least through 2012, the researcher said.

Companies expected to release competing devices this year include Asus, Acer and Dell. But iSuppli does not expect significant competition to begin until 2011, when Hewlett-Packard is expected to release on a tablet computer based on Palm's WebOS. HP bought Palm this year for $1.2 billion.

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