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Analysts: 'iPad 3' display presents a challenge

The type of high-resolution display expected to be used by Apple in the next version of the iPad is not easy to manufacture. So analysts believe there is little chance that a major upgrade to the iPad, an iPad 3, will appear this year.

Making tablets with a very-high-resolution display in large volumes is posing a challenge for Apple, according to analysts and an Asia-based report.

iPad 2.  It will be a challenge to make a version of the iPad with a very high resolution display at the volumes that Apple demands.
iPad 2. It will be a challenge to make a version of the iPad with a very high resolution display at the volumes that Apple demands. Apple

Two analysts contacted by CNET today said that they don't expect a new version of the iPad, dubbed the iPad 3, until next year because of high-resolution display supply constraints. And a report today from Digitimes made similar claims.

"We have heard that panel makers have had trouble manufacturing panels at efficient yields with the resolutions that Apple is requesting," said Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch. "There's even been discussion of lowering the resolution to get better yields."

A 9.7-inch tablet display with 2,048x1,536 resolution "has been under development for some time," Rhoda Alexander, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, said in reply to an e-mail query. Alexander said iSuppli has built its projections on a 2012 introduction of an iPad with this kind of very high-resolution display. Apple's iPad 2, announced back in March, has a 9.7-inch display with a resolution of 1,024x768.

Alexander's conclusion is that the iPad 3 will not appear before the first quarter of 2012 because the "higher performance panels present a number of challenges...the panel yields are likely to be substantially lower than that of the iPad 2's panel. It makes no sense for Apple to introduce a supply constrained product in its heaviest demand quarter (third quarter) of the year," Alexander said.

Alexander continued. "The backlight issue presents a substantial challenge as well, both in integrating the higher performance requirements within the form factor requirements and managing the additional power requirements."

The issues described above affect all tablet suppliers, forcing other makers to delay their plans for models with higher resolutions displays too, according to the report in Digitimes.

Earlier this month, Ashok Kumar, an analyst at Rodman & Renshaw, said that Apple had begun production on an incremental upgrade for the iPad 2--and iPad 2 "Premium" for professionals. This is expected to also have a high-resolution screen. It is still possible that Apple brings out a professional model this year because the necessary production volumes for a high-end version of the iPad 2 would be low, Kumar said today.