That 20 million figure marks a 60 percent increase over the number of iPads that Foxconn shipped to Apple in the second quarter, noted DigiTimes, which added that the tablet orders are expected to provide major growth for Apple over the second half of the year.
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In Apple's fiscal third quarter, which ended June 25, the company sold 9.25 million iPads, a gain of 183 percent over the year-ago quarter.
The iPad 2 launched mid-March but quickly sold out as supply was unable to keep up with the initial demand. During Apple's second-quarter earnings call on April 20, then-Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, now CEO, said that the company was trying to ship enough iPads to meet the "staggering" demand but couldn't say when that might happen.
Over the course of several weeks and even months, supply did slowly start to catch up with demand, as seen by the gradual decrease in wait times when ordering an iPad through Apple's online store. From four to five weeks in March, the wait time finally dropped to 24 hours at the beginning of August, more than four months later.
By ordering 20 million iPads from its supplier, Apple is likely trying to avoid a similar situation, especially during the fourth quarter, which includes the all-important holiday season in November and December.
And at least one analyst believes Apple will be able to sell all those iPads by the end of the year. In a recent article for Seeking Alpha, investment analyst Jason Schwarz projected sales of 22 million iPads during the final quarter of the year.