Will iPad 3 Launch This February or March?

Rumor after rumor has been circulating around the market since third quarter last year when Apple launched its latest iPhone 4S, but there’s still no confirmation from Apple on when the iPad 3 will be announced. At this time, reports say that Apple’s switching OEM suppliers from Foxconn to Pegatron due to several spare parts shortages might be affecting its release date. Analysts seem to spawn new estimates multiple times each week, although this does not reduce the level of enthusiasm from die-hard Apple fans.

Artist's rendition of what Apple's iPad 3 might look like

Some analysts expect Apple to release a lower-priced iPad, although it’s not yet sure whether this will be the iPad 3 or if the current iPad 2 will be reduced in price to complete a low-end, mid-range and premium product line. At this point, word of a new 3D or retina display screen and quad-core processor might mean the iPad 3 will continue to be a premium product.

Among other factors to be considered, Chinese factory workers might be on holiday for a week for the Lunar New Year. And with this, speculation is that Apple might already have an adequate number of manufactured units for initial shipment. It’s either that or the company will unveil the next iPad in March, which is expected sell at least 10 million units in the first quarter.

An Analysis of the iPad 1 & iPad 2 Ship Dates

Let’s take a look back at the time when iPad 1 and 2 hit U.S stores. These were April 3, 2010 and March 11, 2011, respectively, which was at an 11 month interval. The most probable time for the next iPad release — considering holidays and component shortages —  is March or April 2012. This estimate is further corroborated by a Bloomberg report released at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, which says that the next iPad would launched by March, and will have 4G LTE connectivity, a faster processor and a higher resolution touchscreen. Tight integration with Facebook is also possible out of the box. LCD panels are provided by two Korean companies, similar to the iPad 2: Samsung and LG, which started supplying displays for Apple just this month.

According to CNET, the processor could be quad-core A6, and the tablet will use Qualcomm’s LTE Gobi 4000 chip (the same 3G chips that Apple uses on the iPhone). The tablet will come with a 14,000 mAh battery. Regretfully, the upcoming iPad is rumored to be modestly thicker than the current model.

Apple is one of the brands known to frequently reschedule its events and adjust product launches up to the last minute. And with Apple’s secretivenesss, they never give comments on the endless speculations and rumors, although Apple seems to enjoy the buzz generated by these rumors.