iPad 3 is entering production, primed for early 2012 release: report

The Apple iPad 3 is on the way, according to one analyst.

The iPad 3 is reportedly entering production. Here, at an Apple store in Manhattan, a users tries out an iPad 2.

While everyone was ogling the new iPhone 4S, Apple may have just pushed the iPad 3 into production. According to Susquehanna Financial analyst Jeff Fidacaro, who spoke this week to All Things D, Apple recently increased iPad supply orders from between 11 million and 13 million to between 12 and 14 million. That spike, Mr. Fidacaro believes, is driven in part by the new iPad.

"Since our last month supply chain checks we are now seeing 600,000 to one million iPad 3 builds showing up on the plan for the fourth quarter of calendar 2011," Fidacaro told John Paczkowski of All Things D. "Our previous estimate did not include any iPad 3s." This ramp-up, Mr. Paczkowski notes, would indicate a spring launch for the iPad 3 – perhaps even in March, exactly a year after the iPad 2 was first unveiled.

Another iPad! Well, it certainly would help cement the supremacy of Apple's tablet. Horizons readers will remember that back in September, the folks at Gartner estimated that Apple will have a "free run" over its competitors for the next three years. "We expect Apple to maintain a market share lead throughout our forecast period by commanding more than 50 percent of the market until 2014," one senior Gartner analyst wrote.

Not that Apple needed the encouragement. This week, the tech titan released the iPhone 4S, which continues to receive high marks from critics. "The one and only disappointment I have with the iPhone 4S is that the shutdown spinner animation is still low-res," one reviewer wrote. "That’s pretty low on the list of nits to pick." The iPhone 4S takes the basic shape of the iPhone 4, and adds a better processor and camera, and a voice-operated personal assistant.

Apple reportedly received 1 million iPhone 4S preorders on the first day, breaking all previous records. Meanwhile, Verizon, Sprint, and AT&T have all depleted their preorder stock. (Users can still place preorders for the 4S, although the device may not ship for a couple of weeks.) Speaking to Bloomberg News, Roger Entner of Recon Analytics forecasted "another blockbuster launch" for Apple.

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