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iSuppli bucks trend, increases 2011 Apple iPad sales forecast to 43.7M

As many prognosticators rethink their iPad sales predictions after Apple's quarterly earnings report, iSuppli has gone against the grain and increased its 2011 shipment forecast to 43.7 million units.

Beyond 2011, iSuppli upped its forecasts across the board this week. The market research firm sees Apple selling 13.8 million total units in 2010, and 63.3 million in 2012.

The forecast calls for iPad sales to accelerate as 2010 draws to a close, reaching a pace greater than 2.5 million per month. In July, iSuppli declared the iPad would be the "Tickle Me Elmo" hot toy of holiday 2010, and predicted sales this year of 12.9 million, and 2011 sales of 36.5 million.

The increased forecast came after Apple on Monday announced sales of 4.19 million iPads for its September quarter. While a larger number than the product's launch quarter, it was also less than Wall Street analysts had expected, prompting some to rethink their sales projections going forward.

But iSuppli believes that improved component availability will lead to even stronger sales in the coming months, and extending through 2012.

"In its previous iPad forecasts, iSuppli noted that the only constraint on shipment growth now is production—and not demand," said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research for iSuppli. "The only factor limiting production is the availability of key iPad components, such as the Field Fringe Switching (FFS) LCD panels, projected capacitive touch screens and NAND flash."

"Despite ongoing yield issues, Apple's suppliers have steadily increased monthly production to meet Apple's demand. Production rates are now on target to meet the expected strong fourth-quarter sales."

The iPad will also be helped this season by expanded retail availability, including sales at AT&T and Verizon stores, Target, all U.S. Best Buy locations, and Walmart.

iSuppli also noted that interest from the education market in the iPad is increasing. The report indicated that Apple is expected to offer education discounts and packages starting in 2011, and that those offers will be similar to those currently offered on notebooks to students and teachers.