iPad 3 due in early 2012: report

The iPad 3 is on the way, perhaps as soon as early 2012, according to one new report.

The iPad 3 is on the way, the Wall Street Journal reports. Here, a user tries out the Apple iPad 2.

The iPad 3 could hit store shelves as soon as early 2012, about a year after the release of the top-selling iPad 2. So say the folks at the Wall Street Journal, who report that Apple is actively working with component suppliers, in an effort to kickstart the production cycle before the end of 2011. And if the Journal is right, this new tablet will get at least one major boost over previous iterations.

"The next generation iPad is expected to feature a high resolution display – 2048 by 1536 [pixels] compared with 1024 by 768 [pixels] in the iPad 2 [for reference, the smaller iPhone 4 is 960 by 640] – 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," writes the Journal's Lorraine Luk. That more or less meshes with previous rumors, which had the iPad going hi-def.

So does Apple ever know how to control a market, or what? By annually refreshing its product lines, not only does Apple manage to gain a regular blast of all-important publicity, but it also tempts current owners suddenly saddled with an obsolete device. Oh, sure you have an iPad 2, and listen, that iPad 2 is great, but that iPad 2 doesn't have a high-def display, and you need a high-def display. Right?

So sell the iPad 2 to a reseller and pick up an iPad 3! Etc. Of course, Apple does technically have competitors in the tablet arena – RIM with its BlackBerry PlayBook, Samsung with its Galaxy Tab, Motorola with its Xoom. But as analyst Richard Shim wrote recently, Apple has an absolutely smothering dominance over the market. (Shim calls it a case of "Apple vs. the Have-Nots," which sounds about right to us.)

In fact, we heard about the latest fatality earlier this week: HP, which is undergoing a sweeping corporate overhaul, announced it would discontinue its webOS operating system. Yes, the same interface that powers the (seven-week-old) HP Touchpad. Which effectively makes the HP Touchpad history, and leaves owners of the Touchpad high and dry. What will happen when the iPad 3 hits? Drop us a line in the comments section.

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