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iPad 2: Prognosticators Ponder Plethora of Possibilities

By Richard Adhikari MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Nov 19, 2010 2:51 PM PT

Apple's expected to release a new version of the iPad sometime next year, sparking endless speculation about when exactly it will arrive and what features it will tout.

iPad 2: Prognosticators Ponder Plethora of Possibilities

Although the original iPad was launched last April, some predictions posit the next iteration will arrive in January, though others give themselves some leeway by forecasting it'll be released sometime in the first quarter of 2011.

As far as features go, the idea that iPad 2 will have two cameras is one popular prediction. Another is that it will be a dual-network device able to work on both GSM and CDMA.

Some say the next iPad will be thinner. Others say it will have a unibody construction like the MacBook. And a few believe it will be made out of carbon fiber for greater durability and to reduce its weight.

Finally, there are rumors that Apple will cut back on the output of its existing iPad model to leave production lines free for the next version.

The iPad Buzz

Production of the new iPad could begin as early as January, and the device may be launched by March, said RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky. However, Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair expects the new device to hit the shelves in April.

Ibiden, Tripod technology and TTM Technologies have been signed up by Apple to supply printed circuit boards for the new iPad, according to Digitimes, which quoted anonymous sources. They will begin shipping HDI boards for that device in small quantities in December, the article claims.

Apple will sign up another four suppliers in February 2011 when shipments of the new iPads ramp up, according to the report.

The new iPad will be thinner than the current one and will have a unibody construction similar to that of Apple's MacBooks, Blair said. He and several other analysts expect the new iPad to include at least a front-facing camera and support both CDMA and GSM wireless networks.

Apple is looking at using carbon fiber to create a stronger, lighter outer shell for its mobile devices, possibly including the iPad, AppleInsider speculates. This view is based on a new patent application from Apple published by the U.S.. Patent and Trademark Office.

"There are a lot of rumors going around, and Apple does a very good job of sitting back and letting the rumors circulate," Rhoda Alexander, director of monitor research at iSuppli, told MacNewsWorld.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

The Possible Truth

It's likely the new iPad will be released in the first quarter of 2011, William Stofega, a program director at IDC, told MacNewsWorld.

Apple's not likely to make any changes in the iPad's form factor for the next generation of the device, Alexander said.

"Apple's model is, when they issue a new release, they may incorporate new features, but they won't change the form factor unless there are serious problems," Alexander pointed out. "What we see from the supply side is plans for next year continuing the form factor they have."

The new iPad will have at least one camera, and perhaps even two because of demand from medical professionals who may want to photographically document injuries on their patients, Alexander speculated.

"We're seeing a fair amount of interest in the device from the medical community," Alexander said. "We've seen strong adoption of the iPhone among surgeons and physicians, and now they're going for the iPad as well."

Whither Connectivity?

Some analysts suggest the new iPad may have 4G network capabilities and compatibility with both GSM and CDMA networks.

"It's a little early for the 4G chipsets to be fully baked and integrated," IDC's Stofega pointed out. "You have guys out there who can do it but it's still a bit early to tell whether these are fully integrated chipsets where you're not bolting one component onto another."

On the other hand, we're seeing LTE being rolled out in large cities, and that might be a catalyst for enabling 3G+ capability in the new iPad, Stofega pointed out.

Still, LTE chipsets could be costly, and Stofega believes Apple might offer a 3G/CDMA communications capability combo on the new iPad.

How Many iPads Again?

Earlier this week, Rodman & Renshaw analyst Ashok Kumar warned that Apple may not be able to meet analysts' expectations that it will sell 6 million iPads this quarter. Demand will be hit by lean economic conditions, he said.

"All the indicators we're seeing point to very strong demand for the iPad," iSuppli's Alexander stated. "The only negative I see for this quarter is whether Apple can get the product out there to meet demand."

There have been issues on the supply side, Alexander pointed out. The glass-on-glass touchscreen is one pain point because the technology has not been used in production on this scale before, she explained.

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