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Friday, September 03, 2010, 05:05 am PT (08:05 am ET)

Apple now building 2M iPads per month to meet demand

Apple has doubled its monthly output capacity of the iPad and is now manufacturing 2 million per month to meet strong consumer demand, but the company reportedly would like to go even further and produce 3 million every month very soon.

Analyst Katy Huberty with Morgan Stanley indicated that iPad builds recently increased to 2 million per month, up from the previous number of just 1 million a month. Apple allegedly indicated to its suppliers that it would like to produce 3 million a month starting in the fourth calendar quarter of 2010.

It's likely not coincidental that less than a week ago, iPad shipping times for new orders from apple.com improved to 24 hours. For months, customers had to wait an estimated 7 to 10 days, as Apple was surprised by strong demand for the device when it launched in April.

Officials with the company admitted they were initially caught off guard by the demand for the iPad after it launched, and they were unsure when they would be able to satisfy that demand. Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook noted that the iPad is not taking a typical early adopter curve, and already has a "very big" market.

"We want to take full advantage of it, and so we are investing enormous time and resources in increasing our capability in getting iPad out to as many people as we can," Cook said in July.

Despite strong demand, Huberty reiterated that the iPad has not cannibalized sales of Macs. She noted that U.S. Mac sales are tracking up 20 to 25 percent year over year, and have been accelerating in recent weeks.

In June, it was estimated that Apple was producing a total of 1.2 million iPads per month. That was up from 800,000-900,000 units in May, 700,000 units in April, 470,000 units in March, and 300,000 in February. At the time, it was projected that Apple could produce as many as 2.5 million per month in time for the 2010 holidays.