Digitimes tonight reports that next generation iPads are expected to be available in the next 3-4 months as manufacturers in the supply chain have started delivering parts and components for the new tablets to OEM contractors while reducing those prepared for iPad 2.  The report follows a Citi Analyst last week who said that “several sources” have confirmed the next-gen iPad will launch in February saying, “there do not appear to be any significant technical hurdles remaining”.

Current production of iPad 2 will reportedly remain high at 14-15 million units in Q4 2011 but tail to 4-5 million units in the first quarter of 2012 as anticipation for the next iPad grows and inventory is cleared out.

Meanwhile, Foxconn Electronics will begin to produce the next-generation iPads in January and to ramp up the production volume starting February, according to a Chinese-language Commercial Times report, which quoted Kevin Chang, an analyst of Citigroup Global Markets, as indicating.

Production of the new iPads is expected to reach 9.5-9.8 million units in the first quarter of 2012, estimated sources in the supply chain. Sales of iPad products totaled 25.06 million in the first three quarters of 2011 and are likely to reach 40 million units for all of 2011, the sources estimated.

The next generation iPad is expected to have a Retina display, a faster A6 processor – possible Quad Core, and be slightly thicker than the current model…

In November there were several reports pointing towards a slightly thicker, but higher res design, while DigiTimes claimed around the same time that Apple was working on a dual-LED backlighting system as an alternative for an iPad 3 with Retina display and suppliers had alerady begun shipping panels for the device. Shortly after reports from DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim backed up reports that production of panels for iPad 3 retina displays has begun.

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