iPad sales to reach 7 million units in 2010

El Segundo, Calif. — Global sales of Apple Inc.’s iPad is expected to reach 7.1 million units in 2010, doubling in 2011 and nearly tripling to 20.1 million shipments in 2012, according to a conservative preliminary forecast from iSuppli Corp. The market researcher attributes the growth to the iPad’s design, compelling apps, and multi-touch capability despite the omission of Adobe Flash from the devices. Plus, Apple’s past successes.

iSuppli indicates that early adopters will purchase iPads in 2010, while sales in 2011 and 2012 will be driven by several factors including new applications, improved functionality and declining prices.

Factors that could boost sales higher include the quick addition of feature enhancements and Flash support, said iSuppli.

“Touch is the new standard for user interfaces, providing a naturally intuitive way of operating an electronic device, whether you are two or 92,” said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research for iSuppli, in a statement.

She added: “The tablet form factor is ideally suited to touch. The iPad represents an intriguing mix of two devices that have struggled to gain traction for years: Internet appliances and tablet PCs. In a sharp departure from past tablet implementations, it appears that Apple has both minimized and maximized the capabilities of the devices, limiting it as a creation device but compensating for this shortcoming by offering a wealth of easily consumable applications. The device’s initial limitations are likely to be overlooked if Apple provides enough content to keep users engaged within the product limitations.”


Alexander noted that competitors are ready to introduce their own tablet PCS, which may have more robust capability than the early iPads, but being the first out with a low-cost tablet alternative certainly gives Apple an advantage.

However, Apple’s decision to not include Adobe Flash could limit sales, said Francis Sideco, iSuppli’s principal analyst, wireless communications.

“Until Apple addresses this issue one way or another, its decision not to support Flash –communicated earlier on by Apple CEO Steve Jobs — will have a limiting effect on the iPad’s sales potential,” stated Sideco. “This is because one of the key use cases of the device, as marketed by Apple, relates to web browsing or consumption of online content. Absent Flash, iPad users will not be able to enjoy Flash-driven content, which is used in a considerable amount of websites as well as web-based games and videos.”

However, with so much free Flash content, Apple may be excluding support for the software in order to encourage users to pay for content, which is a cash cow for Apple with an average price of $3.13 per app and more than 1 billion downloads since its launch in 2008, according to iSuppli.

Click here for Sideco’s report on the iPad and Flash, “Operating Systems: The New Face of Wireless.” iSuppli plans to soon release the results of an iPad teardown. Click here for a recent virtual teardown of the iPad.

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