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Apple 'iPad 2' shipping in three months

Manufacturer told to prepare for production

Taiwanese contract manufacturer Foxconn will punch out 400,000-600,000 iPad 2s within the next 100 days, the company's factory managers have been told.

Foxconn isn't saying anything, but company moles cited by DigiTimes are emphatic that the next-gen tablet will be shipping by the end of February 2011.

If so, it's almost certain that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will announce the new model at an event likely to be held in January - a year after the announcement of the first iPad, which took place on 27 January.

Whenever Apple takes the wraps off the iPad 2, it's expected to sport an extra landscape-orientation dock connector and a front-facing camera.

Some say it'll gain a USB port too - possible, but unlikely given the keeness Apple has that you connect your iDevice to iTunes. An SD card slot seems more likely, especially now that the one in the iPad Camera Connection Kit doesn't work any longer.

If the iPad follows the iPhone, the new model will gain a lighter, plastic back, the better to cut the cost of production and allow Apple to prune prices to attract more buyers.

As for the end-of-February launch, that seems reasonable. Apple needs to get iPad 2 out before the flood of tablets based on Android 3.0, all of which are now expected in the Spring. ®

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