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Analyst estimates 65.6 million iPads to be sold in 2012

Apple’s big fat pile of cash is about to get a lot bigger thanks to its new tablet – that’s pretty much the message all analyst firms are peddling right now. Admittedly with less emphasis on the words “big” and “fat”.

Although the exact number of iPad sales that will be driven by the third-generation iPad, due out this Friday, varies depending on who you ask.

Generally, estimates have been pitched around the 55 to 60 million mark for the potential number of units shifted this year between the new iPad and the freshly discounted iPad 2. Apple has sold around 55 million to date, so the total number of iPads out in the wild is expected to roughly double in 2012.

The latest estimate from Canaccord Genuity, as reported by Reuters, pushes the number up further still, to 65.6 million.

The firm just raised that projection from 56 million, with analysts T Michael Walkley and Matthew Ramsay informing Reuters: “With our checks indicating record pre-orders and 2-3 week wait times for new iPads, we anticipate a record iPad launch this weekend.”

We certainly wouldn’t disagree, particularly given that folk have already started queuing outside stores to get their hands on the new iPad (in fact they started as early as last weekend, nearly a week in advance).

The analysts also said that Windows 8 represents a greater potential threat to the iPad’s dominance than Android tablets, in the longer term that is. Microsoft will certainly be hoping so.