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Apple girds loins for 'obscene iPad sales surge'

Foxconn ships '20 million' fondleslabs

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If you need any further proof that the iPad will continue to dominate the tablet market, here's a bit of news that should remove all doubt: Foxconn, the Chinese supplier of Apple's fabulously successful fondleslab, will ship 20 million iPad 2s this quarter.

So says DigiTimes when reporting Foxconn's earnings – $945.9m – for the first half of this year. Foxconn itself declined to comment "on a specific client".

At least one analyst says that during the final quarter of this year – holiday gift-giving season, y'know – Apple will move 21.9 million iPads. How many of those will be produced by Foxconn in the their third, 20-million-iPad quarter is unknown – but no matter how you slice it, Apple is crushing any and all competition.

Just ask HP, which canned its TouchPad two weeks ago. When HP CEO Leo Apotheker explained the demise of his company's tablet effort and the spin-off their PC business, he said "The tablet effect is real." What he really meant was "The iPad effect is real, and it's kicking us in both cheeks: our tablets and our consumer PCs."

The Motorola Xoom? A mere 250,000 were shipped in its first quarter of availability, and 440,000 in the most recent quarter. RIM's PlayBook? "Approximately 500,000".

And remember, those numbers are of tablets shipped to retailers, and not how many were sold to actual cash-on-the-barrelhead customers – all indications are that the latter stat is significantly lower. Apple, on the other hand, has been selling iPads as fast as it can make them – the company has regularly had to explain to its investors that it's building them as fast as it can.

As we've said before, people don't want tablets. They want iPads.

As of Apple's last fiscal quarter, which ended in June, 28.7 million iPads had flown off the shelves in the year and a quarter that they had been on sale. And if history is any guide, we're going to see another iPad sales surge: during the holiday quarter of 2010, Apple sold 7.3 million iPads, a nearly 75 per cent bump up from 2010's third calendar quarter sales of 4.2 million.

Now, we're not saying that this holiday quarter will see an equally ludicrous leap – after all, in 2010 the iPad was rampaging through early adopters like a voracious virus – but just for giggles, let's say that those 20 million Foxconn iPads get sold this quarter, and that the 2010 holiday-buying bump-up repeats itself: that'd mean that 35 million iPads would be found under Christmas trees, Hanukkah bushes, and Kwanzaa candles this year.

Ain't gonna happen, of course – but 21.9 million? Sounds doable.

Acer chairman J.T. Wang says that tablet "fever" is cooling. Well, he's right, but only because it was so steamy last year. The company's founder, Stan Shin, dismisses tablets as a "fad".

He's wrong. And if DigiTimes' sources are correct, Foxconn can show him 20 million reasons why. ®

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