Apple is working with component suppliers and its assembler in Asia for the trial production of its next-gen iPad 3 from October, according to the the Wall Street Journal, as it looks to stay ahead of the competition in the fast-growing tablet computer market.
The Cupertino-based company has ordered key components such as display panels and chips for a new iPad it is aiming to launch in early 2012, said the people.
The next generation iPad is expected to feature a high resolution display – 2048 by 1536 compared with 1024 by 768 in the iPad 2 – and Apple’s suppliers have already shipped small quantities of components for the sampling of the iPad 3. Suppliers said Apple has placed orders for a 9.7-inch screen device.
One component supplier to Apple said the company has already placed orders for parts for about 1.5 million iPad 3s in the fourth quarter. “Suppliers will ramp up production and try to improve the yield rate for the new iPad in the fourth quarter before its official launch in early 2012,” said a person at the supplier.
“Apple’s standard marketing technique is to produce annual iterations of products so that keen users will buy a new version every year or, at worst, two,” writes ZDNET’s Jack Schofield.
“Since the iPad 2 only appeared in March this year, the iPad 3 shouldn’t be expected until March 2012. This is particularly important because announcing an iPad 3 this year — inevitably in short supply — might hurt Christmas sales of the iPad 2.”
Apple, like many other big personal-computer and consumer-electronics brands, doesn’t actually make most of its products. It hires manufacturing specialists – mainly companies from Taiwan that have extensive operations in China – to assemble its gadgets based on Apple’s designs.
They use parts from other outside suppliers, many of which also are from Taiwan and elsewhere in Asia. The arrangement frees Apple and its fellow vendors from running complicated, labor-intensive production lines, while the ability of Taiwanese companies to slash manufacturing costs helps cut product prices over time.
Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. assembles the iPad. A company spokesman declined to comment. Apple reported blowout earnings for its fiscal third quarter ended June 25 in part due to the popularity of its iPad. The company sold 9.3 million units in the quarter, nearly triple what it sold a year earlier.
Together with the robust sales of the iPhone smartphone and other electronics devices, Apple’s net profit for the period more than doubled to $7.31 billion from $3.25 billion a year earlier.
Still, the next-generation iPad would be coming at a time when there’s more competition in the market. Companies from Samsung Electronics Co., Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc., ZTE Corp. and Toshiba Corp. have launched similar devices using Google Inc.’s Android software.
However, Apple still firmly holds the majority of the tablet market which they’ve created. Android and WebOS releases have yet to gain real traction in the market. HP has already reduce the price of their tablet after less then a month on the market.
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 has not sold as well as many had expected. The legal battles between Samsung and Apple also continue to wage on. Apple recently won an injunction against Samsung denying them access to sell the Galaxy Tab in Europe.
Of course, Apple iPad 3 rumors have taken a backseat to iPhone 5 rumors these days. The latest rumor sets that release for October 7th with a pre-order period starting September 30th. [via Wall Street Journal]