Rumors of Apple's second-generation iPad expected to weaken tablet sales

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With Apple's second-generation iPad expected to debut in the first quarter of 2011, many consumers are expected to hold off on purchasing any competing touchscreen tablets.

Sources from overseas suppliers indicated to DigiTimes that they expect the launch of Apple's next iPad to "seriously weaken" tablet offerings from other PC vendors. Some believe that tablet sales projections for 2011 have been overly optimistic, and may disappoint.

"Since consumer demand for tablet PCs is still limited, while most upstream and downstream players are over-optimistic about the market, tablet PCs may see a sharp drop in demand as soon as the third quarter of 2011, after a big battle in the second," the report said.

That "big battle" in the second quarter of 2011 is expected to be led by Apple's second-generation iPad. In addition, Google is expected to have a tablet-specific version of its Android mobile operating system ready, while Intel will launch its Oak Trail platform.

While the report notes that total tablet sales in 2011 are currently expected by some to reach between 45 million and 55 million sales, some have expectations that high for Apple's iPad alone. For example, analyst Brian Blair of Wedge Partners sees Apple selling 48 million iPads in 2011.

However, after some on Wall Street were disappointed by Apple's sales of 4.19 million iPads last quarter, some analysts lowered their forecasts. Yair Reiner with Oppenheimer has predicted Apple will sell 23 million iPads next year, while Charlie Wolf of Needham & Company expects the company to ship 18 million iPads in 2011.

Last week, one report alleged that Apple currently plans to build about 40 million iPads in calendar year 2011. The company has also allegedly increased its build orders for the end of 2010, in anticipation of strong holiday sales.