Analyst Predicts 55 Million iPad Device Sales in 2012

Overall iPad sales will shoot up to 55 million units by the end of 2012, according to an analyst with a crystal ball. The spike in sales will be driven by "significant" hardware upgrades that will find their way into the iPad 3, including a Retina display, 4G LTE radio, and Siri voice recognition, plus whatever other surprises Apple may have in store when it officially unveils its third-generation tablet device at a press event on March 7, 2012 (this Wednesday).

The 55 million figure comes courtesy of an investor note picked up Apple Insider. Shaw Wu, an analyst with Sterne Agee, claims the iPad 3 is going to be a big upgrade in terms of hardware, with 4G LTE being the feature Apple will ballyhoo the most.

Apple last week sent out invitations to a media event that will take place on March 7, 2012 at 10am Pacific, during which time it will unveil the iPad 3.

Wu believes the inclusion of a 4G LTE radio will further separate the iPad 3 from the plethora of Android tablets on the market, including Amazon's Kindle Fire device, the second most popular tablet on the planet in terms of market share.

"We view the potential inclusion of 4G LTE as key with speeds approaching that of a quality personal computer experience," Wu said.

Not only is a 4G LTE radio a great update for the iPad line, but Wu believes it serves as a strong indicator that Apple's next iPhone model will also sport the same upgrade, which disappointingly wasn't included in the iPhone 4S released in 2011.