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Sources hint Apple plans to launch iPad 3 in March, with iPad 4 scheduled for October 2012

iPad 3  - 874539

Last month we reported rumors that the iPad 3 could come as early as March 2012 - not even a year since the release of hte iPad 2.  The original sources in the supply chain reported that parts and components for the new tablet were being shipped to OEM contractors.

"OEM production of iPad 2 will remain high at 14-15 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 but decline to 4-5 million units in the first quarter of 2012, paving the way for the launch of the new iPads," claimed the unnamed source at the time.

Even that is too long for Apple to wait.  New reports indicate Apple has plans to ship two iPads in 2012 - the "iPad 3" in March, followed by the "iPad 4" in October.  These new rumors come from industry sources in Taiwan.

New rumors stay true to the same iPad 3 specs rumored back in December.

"The iPad 3 will come with a QXGA (1,536x2,048 pixels) display and longer battery life although its other hardware specifications may not be so amazing as expected, said the sources. But Apple will take the advantage of the iPad 3 launch to slash the price of its iPad 2 to $399," the sources claimed.

"The March launch of iPad 3 as well as the price cutting for iPad 2 will enable Apple to fend off competition from non-iPad vendors including Sony, Motorola Mobility and Samsung Electronics, who currently price their tablet PCs at $359 or above," commented the sources.

"However, the competition in the segment may continue to heat up in the second quarter of 2012 as Google reportedly may also launch an own-brand tablet PC in April, competing with Kindle Fire in the entry-level segment," they explained.

To be honest, I'm not that surprised by the iPad 3 launch so close to the iPad 2.  With the Kindle Fire priced at an affordable $199 many have turned to that as a cheaper alternative.  The new iPad 2 discount price should allow for better competition.

The big surprise is the rumor that Apple ALSO plans on shipping another iPad in 2012.  According to sources, Apple has plans to ship its iPad 4 in October, aroudnd the time Microsoft releases its WIndows 8 and intel unveils its Clover Trail-W platform.

"The 9.7-inch iPad 4 is expected to come with much upgraded hardware specifications and integrated applications so as to compete with an array of Android-, Wintel- or WoA (Windows on ARM)-based tablet PCs to be released in the fourth quarter," said the sources.

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Matt Liebl You can follow Senior News Editor Matt Liebl on Twitter @Matt_GZ. He likes games, sports, musicals, and his adorable dog, Wrigley. And his wife.
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