Last Thursday we brought you news that rumors of a release date for Apple’s next generation iPad had hit the web. In an email to clients, Citigroup analyst Richard Gardner said that he saw no obstacles to a February launch of the iPad 3. Well, this morning reports have begun circulating that Apple’s supply chain may be ramping up production in order to meet Apple’s initial order of the device.
DigiTimes, citing “sources in the supply chain,” is reporting this morning that the component manufacturers will maintain production levels of the iPad 2 until the end of 2011, but that in the first quarter of 2012 they will slowly stop making tablet in order to clear the way for the iPad 3. Meanwhile, Chinese newspaper Commercial Times is reporting that Foxconn will begin production of the device in January, ramping up to full-scale production in February.
This last bit conflicts with speculation that Apple will release the device in February, since the unit will only be going into full production at that point. There had been speculation, based on Gardner’s analysis, that Apple might launch the iPad 3 in February, in order to upstage Samsung’s (also rumored, but much more likely) February launch of their own next-generation Galaxy Tab. Samsung’s device is rumored to have specs - including a retina display-like screen - that will put it into serious contention with the iPad, at least in terms of hardware. The Galaxy Tab 10.1 is already regarded as Apple’s nearest competitor, although it remains in a distant second place.
In all likelihood, Apple will maintain it’s release schedule and announce the device in March, for a release in either March or April. The first generation iPad was announced in January of 2010 and released in April, while the iPad 2 was announced in March of this year and released later in the same month.
While there is no hard data iPad 3’s technical specs, rumors abound. Most agree that the device will finally be getting a retina display to match the iPhone 4 and 4S, a rumor supported by Apple’s announcement last month that it would be contracting with Sharp to make the LCD screens for the new device.