By now, everyone’s heard the numbers: three million new iPads sold in the opening weekend, an extraordinary number. But if speculation is correct, the best might be right around the corner.

As 24 countries eagerly anticipate the new iPad being released this coming Friday, reports from UBS analyst Maynard Um suggest that Apple could sell 12 million new iPads between launch and the end of the quarter. And those figures only count the new iPad, and not sales of the discounted iPad 2. That’s 9 million more new iPads in 11 days.

Holy crap.

First of all, shipping 3 million tablets is a feat that many manufacturers have yet to reach since they launched their first device (HP, Motorola, and RIM come to mind). Apple? No big deal, we got that in 3 days.

I find this alone far more impressive than selling 4 million iPhone 4S units in the opening weekend; everyone has/needs a phone, whereas the tablet market is still in its growth and development stages. The prospect of shipping an additional 9 million new iPads, in addition to numerous previous-gen models, is absolutely mind-boggling. More proof that anyone claiming Apple products will underwhelm us are either completely off their rocker, or just fishing for page views.

Update: According to AppleInsider, analyst Gene Munster believes that these explosive sales are not an isolated incident, and that these numbers will continue to grow. How much? In a note to investors, Munster projects sales of 66 million iPads in 2012, growing to 176 million in 2015. “We believe the unprecedented ramp of the iPad over the past year is evidence that the tablet market will be measurably larger than the PC market,” said the note.

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