Apple on Pace to Ship 100 Million iPads in 2013 Despite Low Panel Yields

Is there any stopping the iPad from tablet dominance? Give it time and Android is likely to skip ahead in market share simply by sheer volume and the number of partners pumping out devices based on Google's open source operating system, but it won't happen next week, next month, or even next year. The iPad is still incredibly popular, and if Apple can get a grip on panel production, DisplaySearch believes it might ship as many as 100 million tablets next year.

"When Apple unveiled the iPad mini in October many criticized it’s $329 price as too expensive for a 7-inch segment tablet PC, given competition from other 7-inch tablet PCs, including Amazon Kindle Fire, Google Nexus, Asus, and many private labels. However, there is always a strong base of customers who only want Apple products; recently, the iPad mini was voted one of the hottest consumer products of 2012 in Japan," says David Hsieh, VP of the Greater China Market for DisplaySearch.

Apple iPad mini

The iPad mini faced display shortages that may have stunted shipments by millions of units, in part because the displays are so complex to build, and not just because of the high resolution and low power consumption requirements. There's also the wide viewing angles and high color saturation specifications that require additional photomasking steps. Building an iPad mini panel requires 6 to 8 photomasking steps, versus 4 to 5 for a standard TFT panel.

Challenges aside, Hsieh believes Apple will get things sorted out and "adjust its product portfolio to meet the strong demand for the iPad mini" in 2013. By his estimation, Apple will ship 50 million iPad mini tablets, 40 million regular iPads, and 10 million iPad 2 devices next year, adding up to 100 million iPad shipments in all.