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Surprise iPad rumor, new models next month?

by David Needle

December 29 2011

The Taiwan tech publication Digitimes is at it again, with more predictions of when Apple will release a new iPad and perhaps even more shocking, where.

There isn't any doubt Apple will one day release a successor to its best-selling iPad 2 and if the company follows its annual product release cycle that time will come in March or April of next year. But then again Apple is still the company that vows to "think different" and its product release dates are hardly set in stone. It's also among the most scrutinized tech companies and the least forthcoming -- a combination that leads to endless speculation about its next moves. 

Today the latest buzz comes from Digitimes, the Taiwan-based news organization that tracks the latest tech developments. 

In its newest issue, Digitimes claims Apple is set to release two new versions of the iPad on January 26, 2012 at the Macworld/iWorld conference in San Francisco. Macworld/iWorld is the renamed Macworld Expo conference that Apple participated in for years, but abandoned after the 2009 event as part of a broader move to end its involvement in any big trade shows. 

Since Apple gets plenty of press coverage for its own events and has excellent distribution through its growing network of Apple Stores, a decision to reengage with a consumer trade show would be baffling. Digitimes cites unnamed “supply chain partners” of Apple for its information. 

Other details include the release of two new iPad models that will be considered mid- and high-end models respectively, while the original iPad 2 will become Apple’s entry-level model, presumably priced lower than the current $499 to compete with Amazon’s $199 Kindle Fire. 

Contradicting earlier reports elsewhere and its own publication, Digitimes now says Apple will not release a 7-inch version of the iPad but will stick with the 10-inch (9.7-inch) display form factor in the new models. But the new iPads will include a higher QXGA resolution (1,536 x 2,048 pixels), according to the sources with Dual-LED light bars designed for  to strengthen the brightness of the panels. 

Rounding out its report, Digitimes claims the new iPads will sport new Apple quad-core A6 processors manufactured by Samsung. The current iPad 2 uses a dual-core A5 chip. The report also says one of the new iPads will include a 5 megapixel camera, while the other model will include an even higher resolution 8 megapixel camera. 

Speculation about Apple's next moves is regular fodder for publications, including TabTimes, but Digitimes is one of the higher volume players. A column in Fortune recently noted, for example, that Digitimes, has written 50 articles about the iPad 3 alone. 

“The paper's track record is, to put it kindly, mixed. In December 2010, it reported that Apple had ordered enough touch-panel screens to build 65 million iPads in 2011 -- a number that probably overshot the mark by 25 million units,” said Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt. 

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