El Segundo, Calif. - Worldwide shipments of
will hit 7.1 million in 2010, with sales more than doubling in 2011 to 14.4 million and hitting 20.1 million in 2012, but shipments could go higher if Apple soon adds Adobe Flash Web-video support, market research company
Sales could go even higher if Apple makes other feature enhancements sooner rather than later, iSuppli added.
In the U.S., Wi-Fi-equipped iPads go on sale Saturday, April 3, in Apple stores and select Best Buy stores, followed by U.S. availability of 3G + Wi-Fi version in late April. Outside the U.S., the company has announced that all iPad versions will be available in late April in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. The iPad will ship in additional countries later in the year.
This year's sales "will be driven by early adopters and others attracted to the iPad's unique touchscreen-based user interface," iSuppli said, but in 2011 and 2012, iPad sales will be driven by such factors as new applications, improved functionality and declining prices. Nonetheless, the iPad won't reach its full potential without Flash support, iSuppli contended, because one of the device's key use cases is Web browsing.
"Until Apple addresses this issue one way or another, its decision not to support Flash -- communicated earlier on by Apple CEO Steve Jobs -- will have a limiting effect on the iPad's sales potential," said analyst Francis Sideco. "This is because one of the key use cases of the device, as marketed by Apple, relates to Web browsing or consumption of online content. Absent Flash, iPad users will not be able to enjoy Flash-driven content, which is used in a considerable amount of Web sites as well as Web-based games and videos."
Given the lack of Flash support, "consumers could end up being disappointed if what they expect to be a great browsing experience from â€˜a magical and revolutionary product' ... turns out to be less than extraordinary," iSuppli added
Apple's decision to leave Flash out might be related to the company's focus on selling apps for device. "With so much Flash content available for free, Apple may be excluding support for the software in order to encourage users to pay for any content they use on the platform," iSuppli surmised.