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Wednesday, April 06, 2011, 05:10 am PT (08:10 am ET)

Suppliers delivered 2.4M-2.6M iPad 2 units to Apple in March - report

Perhaps offering an indication of how many iPad 2 units were sold at launch, a new report claims Apple received between 2.4 million and 2.6 million of the hot-selling device from suppliers in the month of March.

A "conservative estimate" of iPad 2 supply going forward sees Apple taking delivery of 4 million to 4.5 million iPad units a month, totaling more than 12 million units in the second quarter of 2011, supply chain sources told DigiTimes. Upstream touch panel makers reportedly indicated that sales of the iPad 2 are running at a faster rate than the first-generation device released in April of 2010.

Those sources also reportedly indicated that the "key" for Apple and other tablet makers will be the supply of "cover lenses for touch panel modules." For Apple to meet its goals in building iPad 2 units in 2011, it will need a steady supply of components from touch panel makers.

In January, Apple revealed that it had invested $3.9 billion into secret long-term component contracts. Though the company would not reveal which components it had inked a deal to secure, it has been speculated that constrained hardware like the glass capacitive touch panels found on the iPad could play a part.

Given regular stock-outs of the iPad 2 in March, Apple presumably sold through the entirety of shipments it received. That would mean Apple sold at least 2.4 million units, if component suppliers' estimates are accurate.

For comparison, the first-generation iPad took 28 days to reach its first million sales. Initially, only the Wi-Fi model was on sale for the first month in the U.S., while both the Wi-Fi-only and 3G-capable iPad 2 models went on sale at the same time in 2011. In addition, Apple began international sales of the iPad 2 in 25 countries in late March, faster than the rollout of the first-generation iPad.