65 million iPads in 2011? Not likely.December 29, 2010: 7:11 AM ET
An estimate based on chatter among touch-panel suppliers seems way out of line
Several sites early Wednesday picked up a report from Taiwan-based DigiTimes that suppliers of 9.7 inch iPad touch-panel screens had received orders from Apple (AAPL) totaling 65 million units for 2011 -- 35 million for LG Display and 15 million each for Samsung and Chimei Innolux.
DigiTimes, which has good sources in Apple's Asian supply chain, regularly publishes credible reports about Cupertino's production plans. This is not one of them.
To see how far out of line that 65 million iPad estimate is, check out the chart above. It shows the trajectory of iPad sales in 2010 based on Apple's reports and, for the last data point, the average unit sales estimates of two dozen analysts we polled for our fiscal first quarter 2011 earnings review. Note that the same analysts who are calling for 6.26 million iPad sales in the quarter than ended Christmas day had overshot Apple's September quarter number by roughly 600,000 units.
Below the fold: What that chart might look like if Apple actually sold 65 million iPads next year. [NOTE: Charts in an earlier version of the story mixed quarterly sales with total sales. They have since been corrected.]
DigiTimes points out that 65 million iPads is "significantly higher" than their own sources' estimates of 45-48 million units for the year. That should have told them something.
ADDENDUM: Daniel Tello, who posts closely followed estimates at Deagol's AAPL Model, suggests that rather than a straight-line, the growth in the chart above should be exponential, as shown in the version below. He cautions, however, that these are NOT his estimates. He's predicting iPad sales of 6.541 million for Q1 2011, about 280,000 units higher than our analysts' consensus. He is not calling for 65 million iPads in calendar 2011 -- at least not so far.
This came in over the transom from reader Kenneth Berger, who writes: "Here is a chart of your (data green line) along with monthly estimates (blue actual where given and smoothed where not - red my projects of how Apple could do the 65 million units in 2011 minus supply chain hangover)."
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]