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iPad 3 to get February intro, March release?

It could be just a few weeks before we see Apple's next iPad. New murmurs say Apple's holding an event to show it off next month, with a release to follow in March.

Apple's iPad 2.
Apple's iPad 2.

We could be a few weeks away from getting a peek at Apple's next iPad, if a new report is to be believed.

Citing an Asian supplier and "a source in United States," Japanese Apple blog Macotakara says that Apple is cooking up a special event in "early February" to take the wraps off its next iPad, with a formal launch of the product taking place sometime the following month.

Why the delay? Macotakara says that the Chinese factories involved with the production if iPad 3 units will be celebrating the Chinese New Year, which kicks off at the beginning of next week.

It's not unusual for Apple to delay the sale of a product from its formal introduction, however that time period has only been a week or two for new iterations of existing products. In the case of the iPad 2, the product was unveiled at an event on March 2, 2011, with a release on March 11. With the original iPad it was considerably longer, with Apple unveiling the product on January 27, 2010 and not putting it on sale until April 3.

That same timing held true with some of the latest iPhones, with the device shipping about a week and a half after its introduction. For its predecessor, the iPhone 4, that turnaround time was a little more than two weeks.

This is the latest report to suggest that Apple's aiming for a March release for the iPad 3, and the second to come from Macotakara. In October, the blog suggested Apple was planning on a March release, and making use of a new type of dock connector that would be considerably smaller from the one on current iOS devices. A story from Bloomberg last week also claimed March would be the time when the product hits shelves.

One thing worth pointing out is that a March launch would further move the iPad's release cycle closer to the beginning of the year. That's an impressive feat from a technical standpoint, but also one that could affect sales of the product during the holiday shopping season, with buyers potentially holding off on a purchase in anticipation of Apple delivering a new model just a couple of months later.

Those kind of expectations left a notable mark on iPhone sales during Apple's fourth fiscal quarter last year, with the company selling fewer iPhones than most of Wall Street expected. The big difference in that case was that the product's refresh ran longer than usual.

On the event front, Apple is set to hold its first one of the year with an education-themed announcementin New York next week. While no hardware is anticipated, the event is said to involve the iPad with additions to the company's iBookstore and iTunes U initiatives.

(via Macrumors)