Citing component makers based out of Taiwan, Digitimes is reporting that iPad manufacturer Foxconn has been informed (by Apple we presume?) that they will begin shipping the iPad 2 sometime within the next 100 days (March 7 at the absolute latest) and that initial shipments will be in the 400,000-600,000 range.
Apple originally planned to start mass production in January, but because the device’s firmware is currently still in testing, Apple has been postponing the schedule. Since Foxconn’s new plants in Chengdu are still in pilot production, iPad 2 will be mainly supplied by its Shenzhen plants, while the company’s upstream component partners have all been notified of the shipments schedule.
For the third quarter, Apple announced it had sold 4.19 million iPads with combined sales for the first nine months in 2010 reaching 7.5 million units. As Apple will start selling iPad in South Korea and Latin America in the fourth quarter, as well as strong demand from the year-end holidays, sales for the quarter are expected to surpass seven million units.
As we’ve repeated numerous times here, competitors are still trying to figure out how to compete with the iPad yet the iPad 2 will be in stores before competitors will even be able to blink. Meanwhile, the original iPad still enjoys an impressive 95% share of the entire worldwide tablet market. Toss in a next-gen iPad into the equation and it’s hard to envision a scenario where any collection of tablet devices will be able to put a dent in Apple’s armor.
A few weeks ago we reported that Apple is planning a special event for January where Steve Jobs is expected to unveil the iPad 2. While precise rumors on the device remain scarce, don’t be surprised to see rear and front facing cameras along with some modest spec upgrades. Some intriguing, yet completely unsubstantiated rumors suggest that the iPad 2 will come with a dual mode GSM/CDMA chip from Qualcomm, effectively giving users worldwide cellular access. There are also whispers that the iPad 2 will sport a Retina Display, come with a mini-USB port, and that the high-end model will be 128GB.