Report: Apple preps next iPad for early 2012 release

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is working with its component suppliers on the next version of its popular iPad tablet, which the company expects to release early next year, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The report, citing unnamed sources familiar with Apple's plans, said Apple has ordered key components such as display panels and chipsets and its working on trial production of the new model. The report, which called the new model the iPad 3, also said that the screen size will remain 9.7 inches, but that the resolution on the new model will be double that of the iPad 2, up to 2048 x 1536. Notably, the report also said that, according to one supplier, Apple has already placed orders for parts for 1.5 million units of the new model for fourth quarter.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Bloomberg reported in June that Apple was working on a new version of the iPad that has a screen similar to the Retina Display on the iPhone 4. That report said the new iPad's screen resolution will be about one-third higher than that of the iPad 2, not double as the Journal suggests it will be, and boast a more responsive interface.

Apple shipped a whopping 9.25 million iPads in the second quarter. In the first quarter, Apple shipped 4.7 million iPads. Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer said the company sold every iPad 2 it could make, and the company scored $6 billion in revenue from the iPad and iPad accessories, up from $2 billion in the year-ago quarter. So far, iPad's tablet rivals have not been able to get a foothold in the market. Yesterday, Hewlett-Packard announced it will drop support for its webOS Touchpad tablet. Research firm Gartner predicted that Apple will own the majority of the tablet market through 2015. 

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)

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