Considering the release of cheaper tablet competitors, among other factors (Foxconn?), this year's iPad 3 craziness makes less sense than ever, yet demand and expectations remain high for the device that Apple may reveal tomorrow

Thirty percent of those surveyed by inMobi said that they intend to buy an iPad, with 44 percent of respondents saying they would not consider anything other than an Apple-branded tablet. That matches estimates by analysts, which guess that Apple will sell between 55 and 60 million iPads this year, doubling sales since the device debuted in April 2010, reports The Washington Post. And, we also hear very unsubstantiated whisperings that iPad 3 demand has put lots of pressure on shipping and freights from China with Mac Rumors reporting demand for iPad shipments has caused shipping rates to rise 20 percent, "as Apple has snapped up available capacity at premium rates." At the same time this iPad probably won't look too different but may cost more than the last and Apple is facing more (cheaper) competition than ever, not to mention awful P.R. for its factory conditions. So what explains the bananas expectations for this thing?

Apple is Apple. Part of the company's strategy involves building suspense for its upcoming products. It is secretive on purpose, in part to keep its name in the press via pseudo-substantiated rumors. Even if Apple releases the exact same device tomorrow with a '3' slapped on it, blogger imaginations will build expectations for some revolutionary machine. And, even if Apple does release a very similar product to its predecessor, as it did with the most recent iPhone update, the masses will probably still come, as we saw with the iPhone 4S -- even though it looked and worked very much like the 4.  

PCs are on the way out. The iPad 2's $499 price tag looks mighty expensive compared to the Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire option, but compared to old-school computers that's cheap. And it looks like people are starting to look to tablets as PC replacements, at least according to The New York Times' Nick Wingfield. "From the first day it shipped, we thought — not just me, many of us thought at Apple — that the tablet market would become larger than the PC market, and it was just a matter of the time that it took for that to occur," Apple CEO Tim Cook said at a Goldman Sachs investor conference, notes Wingfield. And, analysts expect that prediction to come true between 2013 and 2017. "The tablet and PC markets are all going to blur,” added Tim Coulling, an analyst at Canalys. "We’re going to see a lot of form-factor innovation. We’ll be asking, What is a tablet and what is a traditional PC?"

Tablets have gone mainstream. Tablets aren't just turning into computer replacements, the device has reached a sort of mainstream status it didn't have when Apple first announced the gadget back in the spring of 2010. "Tablets are on fire, there’s no question about that," Brad Silverberg, a venture capitalist in Seattle at Ignition Partners and a former Microsoft executive, told Wingfield. And, Apple's still feeling the benefits of innovation, attracting more tablet buyers than anyone else, claiming 61 percent of the sales during the run up to holiday season, reported The Guardian. Why not buy the best and first when diving into a strange new gadget?