Apple could ship more than 10 million iPads a quarter for the first time in the spring, part suppliers claimed late Thursday. The company is still on track to ship 6.5 million iPads before April, two to three million of which would be the iPad 2, but would nearly double that in the spring to 10-12 million iPad 2s. Shipments would step up further to where Digitimes‘ insiders estimated 21.5 million to 24 million would ship in the last half of 2011.
The year estimate was still at 40 million iPads for the entire year, but the ranges would let Apple run slightly over or under depending on demand.
Shipments for March would be consistent with Apple’s launch strategy, which will see it stagger the launch by handling the US on March 11 and 26 other countries two weeks later, once enough supply had built up. The estimates for the second half of the year might be conservative if the spring estimates are reliable, however. Apple, like most electronics makers, tends to step up production in the summer for its holiday sales and may often have aggressive shipments for much of the fall to keep up supply.
The company is also often deliberately conservative to avoid overstock and has occasionally had to bring on extra suppliers and factories to keep up. It didn’t catch up to iPad demand until the summer and, even in the fall, said its 16.2 million iPhone deliveries at the end of 2010 were limited only by its manufacturing capacity, not by interest or existing plans.