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Apple expected to ship 40M 'iPad 3,' 25M iPad 2 units in 2012 - report

Total iPad shipments are expected to grow by nearly 20 million units in 2012, with Apple's third-generation iPad expected to lead the way with 40 million total units.

Citing sources in Apple's supply chain, DigiTimes reported on Monday that iPad panel shipments are expected to top 65 million units this year. Most would be for the third-generation iPad, but the supply chain also expects Apple to continue to sell the iPad 2 at a reduced price, accounting for 25 million units.

Shipments of 65 million units in 2012 would easily best the 48 million 9.7-inch panels that suppliers shipped to Apple in 2011.

Total shipments for the first quarter of 2012 alone are expected to be as much as 9 million for the so-called "iPad 3," edging 8 million shipped iPad 2 units. That could drive a record quarter of as much as 17 million units.

Monday's report claimed that Samsung Electronics has outperformed LG Display to become the top supplier of 9.7-inch touchscreen displays to Apple in January. Samsung's total shipments for the month were said to be 2.45 million units, up from 1.65 million in December.

LG, meanwhile, shipped 1.7 million displays to Apple in February, down from 2.1 million in December. And Chimei Innolux is said to have supplied 350,000 screens to Apple in February, down from a half-million in December.

Apple's suppliers from the Far East are believed to be providing the company with high-resolution Retina Displays for its third-generation iPad. Apple is expected to unveil the new device at a media event on Wednesday in San Francisco, Calif., scheduled to kick off at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern.

Other changes to the iPad are expected to be largely internal, with evidence of a faster processor and potential 4G LTE connectivity having surfaced in recent weeks. On the outside, the next iPad is expected to look largely the same, with an external case featuring edges slightly more tapered than the iPad 2.