100 Million iPads Possible in 2013
The largest rise will come in iPad mini shipments, which DisplaySearch suggests may be as high as 50 million units, over and above the 100 million iPad 2s and new iPads that Apple hopes to ship next year.
The bottleneck to this aggressive plan could be availability of thin-film transistor (TFT) display panels. According to DisplaySearch, Apple’s vendors only ship 1.6 million panels in the third quarter and Apple has requested a total of 14 million panels for the fourth quarter. The panels are difficult to manufacture and yield rates can be low.
DisplaySearch notes that Apple will need to find other suppliers if it hopes to ship 50 million iPad minis. The company currently has two panel suppliers for the iPad mini, AU Optronics Corp. (NYSE: AUO) and LG Display Co. Ltd. (NYSE: LPL), and needs to find a third, particularly if Apple’s relationship with Samsung Electronics continues to deteriorate.
DisplaySearch forecasts the total tablet market will ship 170 million units next year and that if Apple hits its targets, the Cupertino company will grab a 60% share of the market.