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  (Source: applenerd.net)
iPad 2 successor possibly to hit stores as early as February

While this can be lumped squarely in the "unconfirmed" column, rumors have begun swirling about the possibility of Apple's next-generation tablet, the iPad 3, launching within the next "three to four months."

Anonymous sources in the supply chain are cited by DigiTimes saying that the parts and components for the iPad 3 are being delivered to OEM contractors while reducing deliveries for the iPad 2. 

"OEM production of iPad 2 will remain high at 14-15 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 but decline to 4-5 million units in the first quarter of 2012, paving the way for the launch of the new iPads," DigiTimes writes.

The rumors are bolstered by further reports from a Chinese Commercial Times report that says Foxconn will begin production on the new models in January, and increasing production by February.

The aforementioned anonymous supply-chain sources say that anywhere from 9.5 to 9.8 million units of the iPad 3 will be produced in Q1 of 2012.

Another report from last week, this one from the L.A. Times, cited February as the target launch date, so the new timeframe isn't too far off. 

According to the Times, the iPad 3 will be similar to its predecessor, but will include Apple's retina display, doubling the resolution found on the current model.

The original iPad launched in April 2010. The iPad 2 launched in March 2011. If Apple's 11-month trend for next generation of its popular tablet continues, February 2012 would be the target.

With increased competition in the tablet market from the likes of Microsoft and additional Android offerings, Apple might be feeling a sense of urgency to stay ahead of the curve if it wants to hold on to its tablet market share.

Sources: DigiTimes, LA Times





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