Is an Apple iPad 2 on the way?

An iPad 2 could hit shelves as early as next year, according to at least one source.

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    Apple iPad 2 gossip, commence! According to a Taiwanese newspaper, Apple is readying an iPad 2 for a 2011 launch. At left, a regular old iPad is shown at a store in Moscow.
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An Apple iPad 2 will go into production beginning in December – and hit shelves as soon as Q1 of 2011. That's the news this week from Economic News Daily, an English-language Taiwanese paper. According to News Daily staff, the new iPad will include FaceTime functionality, fresh display tech, a pair of cameras – one forward-facing – and a USB port.

As Dan Nystedt of IDG News points out, there is reason to trust the News Daily report.

"Taiwanese newspapers," Nystedt writes, "sometimes win scoops on new electronics products because Taiwanese companies are involved in every aspect of electronics production, from components to final assembly. For example, the Economic Daily says that Largan Precision will supply camera lenses for the new iPad, while Hon Hai Precision Industry, which operates under the trade name, Foxconn, will be responsible for final assembly."

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Moreover, the Economic Daily News piece meshes with a similar prognostication from Brian Marshall, an analyst with the firm Gleacher and Company. Marshall, citing sources in hardware manufacturing – and the predictable rhythm of Apple's product-releases – recently estimated that an iPad 2 would arrive in stores in the spring of 2011.

"I think April is the proper time-frame for an iPad 2," Marshall told Computerworld. "Since I'm projecting that Apple will release a CDMA iPhone in March, both will help to equalize Apple's seasonality." Marshall says that the iPad 2 won't get a sweeping redesign, but it will certainly get front- and rear-facing cameras. "It will be the same form factor, but with dual-camera functionality," he said.

A team of analysts at Citigroup has predicted that there will be 35 million tablet computers sold in 2011 – and the Apple iPad will account for three-quarters of that total. (Read more here.) Apple already dominates the tablet market. But by introducing a new iPad – and by riding the inevitable wave of good press – the company could start to shake off its competitors, and bring attention back to the device that started it all.

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