Production of Next-Generation iPad Set to Ramp in February? 'World Mode' Cellular Data Access?

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A pair of reports today are rekindling anticipation for the next-generation iPad, with one note from DigiTimes suggesting that Apple has already locked in an initial set of circuit board suppliers for the forthcoming device, with more suppliers set to come online in February to support what is expected to be a very significant build rate.

Ibiden, Tripod Technology and TTM Technologies have been named as the initial PCB suppliers for a second-generation Apple tablet PC, which is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2011. Four more suppliers will be added to the list in February 2011, when shipments of the new iPads ramp up, according to industry sources.

The sources said Ibiden, Tripod and TTM have received certification from Apple, and will start shipping any-layer HDI boards for iPad 2 in small quantities in December, the sources said.

Separately, Apple has been rumored by Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair to have adopted a "world mode" GSM/CDMA chip from Qualcomm to provide cellular data access for the next-generation iPad.

"Recent checks... suggest Apple is going to be ratcheting down production of the existing 3G iPad over the next two months in anticipation of ramping up a new World iPad that is powered by Qualcomm and will run on both GSM and CDMA based networks around the world," Blair writes.

Such a move would allow CDMA carriers such as Verizon to offer an iPad directly compatible with their networks, avoiding the need for the packaging of Wi-Fi-only iPads with MiFi mobile hotspot devices currently offered by the carrier.

The report goes on to note that the next-generation iPad will include at least a front-facing camera, which appears to be a given considering the company's recent focus on FaceTime video chatting, although some reports have claimed that Apple will also include a rear-facing camera. Finally, Blair claims that the next-generation iPad will be thinner than the current model and will require a new manufacturing process to create the thinner unibody design.

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