A Thursday report from industry trade publication DigiTimes suggests that demand for Apple's iPad 2 is continuing to escalate. The Taiwan-based newspaper noted that contract manufacturer Foxconn Electronics is expected to deliver 20 million iPad 2s to Apple during the third quarter.
Foxconn is the largest exporter of consumer electronics in the Greater China area. A number of gadget vendors based in North America and Europe outsource their manufacturing to the Taiwan-based company, including Apple, with the iPhone and the iPad the best-known products that Foxconn produces.
The DigiTimes estimate of 20 million iPad 2s is a 60 percent increase from the prior three months. Still, given the supply shortages that struck Japan early this year, Apple may simply be taking the precaution of stocking up well in advance of this year's holiday shopping season.
"We are modeling for second-half calendar-year 2011 iPad unit [shipments] of 22 million -- up 91 percent year over year from 11.5 million in the second half of calendar year 2010," Piper Jaffray analyst Andrew Murphy wrote Thursday in an email.
The firm also currently estimates that Apple's 2011 iPad shipments "will grow 143 percent year over year to 35.9 million units," Murphy added, though this last comparison is to a partial year of iPad sales in 2010.
Redefining Web Metrics
Accelerating demand for media tablets overall -- and Apple's iPad in particular -- has forced Net Applications to change the way it reports data about the global market shares of browsers and operating systems. The web-metrics firm said Thursday that it will be releasing separate statistics for the PC and mobile/media tablet markets.
"The combination of mobile and tablet usage has continued to rise dramatically and is now over six percent -- and accelerating -- of all browsing on the Internet," said Net Applications Executive Vice President Vince Vizzaccaro. "Because of this rise, mixing the device types reduced the value of the data."
During August, Apple's Safari web browser held a 53 percent share of the newly combined mobile/tablet segment, followed by the Opera Mini (20.8 percent), Android (15.7 percent), and Symbian (5.8 percent) browsers. Likewise, Apple's iOS accounted for a 53 percent share of mobile/tablet operating systems, followed by Java ME (20.6 percent), Android (16 percent), and Symbian (six percent).
For now, mobile and tablet are still in the same category, Vizzaccaro noted on Thursday. "This is due to the lack of competition in the area," he said. "However, in the future we plan to also break out tablets into their own category."
No Serious Threat To Apple
Android tablets have been able to collectively grab 20 percent of market share away from the iPad during the last 12 months, according to ABI Research. However, no single vendor using Android or any other tablet OS has been able to mount a significant challenge.
"None are separating themselves from the pack to pose a serious threat to Apple," said Jeff Orr, mobile-devices group director at ABI. "In fact, most have introduced products at prices higher than similarly configured iPads."
Moreover, the launch of de-featured, low-cost media tablets by more than 50 vendors this year may actually prove counterproductive for Apple's tablet rivals.
"This will certainly help bolster year-over-year growth for the category, but it also creates a negative perception in the minds of the mass-consumer audience about the readiness of media tablets to be fully functional within the next several years," Orr said.