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iPad 3 'in production', says analyst

An analyst has said the third incarnation of Apple's tablet PC has gone into production, probably for a March launch. Here's hoping.

The iPhone 4S may have only just gone on sale, but word is already out about the iPad 3. Apparently it's already gone into production, according to an analyst, and looks likely for a March 2012 launch, a year after the iPad 2.

Susquehanna Financial analyst Jeff Fidacaro told AllThingsD that increased demand from suppliers suggests Apple is upping its production run on iPads for the rest of the year, which would hint that iPad 3 devices are in the pipeline.

Apple is increasing the run to somewhere between 12 and 14 million, up from between 11 and 13 million (nothing like specifics, eh?), according to Fidacaro.

"Since our last supply chain checks we are now seeing 600,000 to one million iPad 3 builds showing up on the plan for the fourth quarter of calendar 2011," the analyst told AllThingsD.

"Our previous estimate did not include any iPad 3s."

He also estimated that Apple had shipped 11.5 million iPads in the third quarter, with a further 13 million to come before the end of 2011.

This early run would most likely be a trial batch to iron out any bugs, though some could make it to retail. (A million test units would be a bit excessive, even for Apple.) What with all the prototypes being left in bars in California, it might be worth keeping a lookout -- it's a good excuse at least to nip in for a cheeky half should you find yourself in the area.

This would also hint at a March launch, a year to the month since the iPad 2 announcement. Some rumours have already been doing the rounds, including that it'll have a curved screen and a retina display. Get the full lowdown over on our round-up.

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