By Philip Elmer-DeWitt
March 29, 2011

The persistence of record-setting queues has Wall Street scratching its collective head

The morning phone call to Apple’s Fifth Avenue Store followed a familiar script:

Do you have iPad 2s today? Yes, we got a shipment. Is there a line? Yes, it goes around the block. Do you have enough units for everybody? No, we don’t.

That crowds of buyers are still gathering outside Apple Stores every morning, more than two weeks after the iPad 2’s U.S. launch, on the off chance that some product arrived overnight is something few Apple AAPL analysts expected, as Needham’s Charlie Wolf was brave enough to admit in a note Tuesday entitled “AAPL: Shock and Awe!”

“Our expectation going into the March 11th launch of the iPad 2 in the U.S. was that it would be successful, but probably more subdued than the launch of the original iPad a year ago,” he wrote. “The launch blew out our expectations.

“Our failure in forecasting iPad sales was one of imagination. Until the iPad 2, we questioned whether the device was for real or simply a fad. The iPad 2 launch disabused us of this notion.”

Wolf has raised his iPad shipment numbers for this year and next by 10 million units, from 20 million to 30 million units in 2011 and from 30 million to 40 million units in 2012.

Also on Fortune.com:

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