updated 07:15 pm EDT, Thu April 21, 2011
iSuppli lowers iPad 2 numbers on multiple issues
Apple's tightly constrained iPad 2 production mentioned in its results call was the virtue of several technical problems compounding each other, IHS iSuppli believed in an updated estimate. The company had "quality concerns" with the slightly updated LCD as well as touchscreen panel lamination problems, shortages of speakers, and overall initial trouble getting completed iPads. Apple has already tackled may of the issues, but it will reportedly be falling "substantially" short of its April goal.
Analysts at the firm matched the reduced supply by lowering their forecast by four million units to hit 39.7 million. The growth would still be a 163.3 percent surge over the 14.8 million iPads Apple shipped in 2010.
Apple for its part had already said it was shipping "every iPad 2 [it] can make." The IHS iSuppli look also acknowledged the minimal impact from Japan and explained that Apple had put executives in Japan "days" after the Tohoku area earthquake, lining up changes to guarantee supply for the months ahead. The deals may have ended up hurting competitors that didn't have as much clout.
Researchers were still confident that the iPad would keep its dominance. Android was gaining speed, but lackluster reviews for early models like the Motorola Xoom, early high prices, and a lack of apps gave Apple some security. Apple was even achieving an early ubiquity to where companies were promoting apps for iPads by name, not just tablets as a group. The majority position would last until late 2012 or early 2013 in a long-term forecast, although Apple would still be the largest individual tablet maker.
Much of the impact might not necessarily come from heavyweights, like Motorola or Samsung, but instead from the sheer number of companies willing to use cheap TN panels for their LCDs instead of iPad-grade IPS panels. Southeast Asian companies could use the lower quality screens to get the price advantage and claim an edge in China.
iPad shipments should still grow substantially for at least the next year. IHS iSuppli predicted Apple would be more aggressive about its shipments next year and move one million more tablets at 62.6 million.