Forecast: Apple iPad 2 shipment shortage expected this year

Apple’s March release of the iPad 2 – the long-anticipated revamp of its successful tablet – resolved many issues early adopters and skeptics alike pointed out. It sold one million units over its launch weekend — a line that took its predecessor nearly a month to cross.

Now, a new study is cutting its previously-released shipment forecast for the iPad line based on an underwhelming first-month number of iPad 2s sent to stores.

Industry analyst and researcher IHS iSuppli expects a 2011 shipment shortfall due to “manufacturing issues” at Apple, but believes 2012 will see more devices shipped than previously expected:

IHS iSuppli now forecasts Apple will ship 39.7 million units for all models of the iPad this year, down from the February forecast of 43.7 million. This represents a reduction of 9.1 percent, or 4.0 million units. Based on IHS iSuppli’s final estimate of 15.1 million units shipped in 2010, IHS iSuppli now predicts total iPad shipments will rise 163.3 percent in 2011, down from the 189.6 percent predicted in February. IHS iSuppli has slightly increased its 2012 forecast for iPad shipments, to 62.6 million units, up from the previous forecast of 61.6 million.

The research group cited the main underlying causes that resulted in the less-than-expected turnaround: LCD panel quality concerns, shortages of both the end-unit and new speaker and touch supplier lamination problems.

Following the iPad 2 launch, shortage worries were buoyed by the 9.0 Japanese earthquake and subsequent tsunami that affected numerous production factories in the country. However, IHS believes Apple’s manufacturing woes are not related and that the company’s proactive moves just days after the quake ensured it wouldn’t be affected.

Despite noting how the iPad “continues to set the standard by which other tablets are measured” and enjoys “first-mover advantage,” IHS Director of Monitor Research Rhoda Alexander believes Apple will lose marketshare to competitors over the next five years.

“While Apple may lose its dominant share, there is no sign yet of a serious opponent to challenge Apple’s place as the tablet market leader at least through 2015,” said Alexander.