Carolina Milanesi, a Gartner research vice-president for mobile devices, told ( that Asian components makers think Apple will ship between 45 million and 60 million iPads this year.

Gartner’s own forecast for global unit sales of the iPad in 2011 is 47.9 million. For the full tablet media market, which also includes non-iOS tablets running the Android, MeeGo, WebOS and BlackBerry Tablet OS operating systems, the research firm projects 69.8 million units sold worldwide for this year.

Meanwhile, the IDC research group is predicting total worldwide media tablet shipments of 50.4 million for 2011 including more than 30 million unit shipments of the iPad. IDC forecasts global media tablet shipments of 70.8 million units in 2012.