Another analyst is fueling reports Apple will soon shift from the initial iPad design to the unreleased iPad 2. The Cupertino, Calif. company produced 1.6 million of the tablets in December, a sharp drop from the 2.1 million units created in November. The shift has also allowed Amazon’s Kindle e-reader to match iPad shipments.
Amazon’s ability to keep pace with iPad production in December is a sign that the Kindle “is going to mass market from niche market” and that the iPad’s erosion of Kindle’s market “is not obvious,” according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of Concord Equity Research.
Thursday’s report echoes news earlier this week that Apple is preparing to ramp up production of its iPad 2 in order to prevent a repeat of shortages which plagued the first tablet. The iPad 2 is expected to offer three versions, adding a CDMA option along with the current Wi-Fi and 3G.
Although Amazon has been reticent about releasing any hard numbers on Kindle sales, the Internet retailer CEO Jeff Bezos recently announced the Kindle was his company’s best-selling product. Kuo expects the e-reader to sell 4.5 million units in the first three months of 2011. This compares to the 7 million iPads already sold and the 5 million to 10 million Apple is expected to report for December. Globally, e-reader sales reached 12.1 million units in 2010 and are expected to more than double to 27 million in 2011.