Production has started on the high-resolution displays destined for the next-generation iPad, while Apple eyes a 7.85-inch iPad further down the road, an analyst told CNET today.
"It's happening--QXGA, 2048x1536. Panel production has started [for the next-generation iPad]. There's three suppliers," Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch, said in an interview today. Shim confirmed other reports that cite three companies, Samsung, Sharp, and LGD.
That Apple is sourcing the display from three suppliers underscores the challenges of manufacturing a 10-inch-class QXGA screen in high volume. "I would imagine there would be concerns about [adequate] supply given the resolution of the display but you've got three different suppliers at this point. They should have enough to launch the product," Shim said.
Indeed, the 2048x1536 screen will be the centerpiece the of next-generation iPad, or so-called iPad 3. That resolution is a quantum leap over iPad 2 which uses a more pedestrian 1024-by-768 display.
"It takes a couple of weeks for the production to go to the ODMs (the manufacturers). Then the manufacturer puts them in the housing. Then, that goes off to shipment. We could start seeing finished devices produced in December. And then being ready to be shipped in January. With volumes gearing up in February and March," he said.
Apple is also expressing interest in making a mini-iPad based on a 7.85-inch screen, according to Shim. That would come later in 2012, possibly in the second half sometime, he said.
"If there's demand there. There's no reason they wouldn't build a 7.85-inch iPad," Shim said.
Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire may stir up demand in smaller tablets in the wake of the strong consumer response to that device. Shim that Amazon is on track to make 6 million Kindle Fire tablets in the current quarter.