iPad 2 Will Hit Shelves in Q1 2011: Report

The next version of Apple's groundbreaking iPad tablet PC will include a forward-facing camera, FaceTime support, a USB port and be available to consumers and enterprises perhaps as soon as the first quarter of next year, according to a report by the Taiwanese trade publication DigiTimes.

The speculation comes just over a week after Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) unveiled iOS 4.2, an update to its mobile operating system that included a number of key features and improvements for the iPad.

Not surprisingly, the DigiTimes report sent Apple Nation into a frenzy, with rumors and additional speculation spreading like wildfire across numerous Mac-centric blogs, forums and websites.

"Apple plans to move aggressively on adding FaceTime functionality to its entire line of iOS devices, leaving the iPad as the last devices to receive the upgrade," AppleInsider reported, adding that "a person with proven knowledge of the company's future plans indicated that an iPad equipped with a forward-facing camera is already in the advanced testing stages at Apple.

FaceTime, Apple's open standard video chat app, is already available on the iPhone 4 and iPod touch. The report claims the iPad 2 will retain the original's 9.7-inch screen size.

The DigiTimes' report said that several touch panel and reinforced glass suppliers, including TPK Touch Solutions, WinTek, Cando and Cimei Innolux, were ramping up production in anticipation of an imminent iPad 2 release.

"Component suppliers of iPad are expected to start shipments for the second-generation iPad at the beginning of 2011," the report said.

With a slew of competitors set to launch tablet PCs in the first quarter of 2011, Apple's timing for a purported release of its second-generation iPad would seem ideal.

Already, the iPad is making considerable inroads in the enterprise sector, particular in the financial services and health care industries.

Apple officials were not immediately available to comment on the report.

A Barron's report over the weekend quoted Citigroup analysts predicting that more than 35 million tablet PCs will be sold in 2011 with Apple's iPad holding a dominating 75 percent of the market.

Larry Barrett is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

TAGS:

iPad, Apple, tablet PC, mobile devices, iOS 4.2

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