Buried in a Reuters report this evening about the imminent launch of the MacBook Air, there was a single sentence nonchalantly stating that the iPad 3 would launch in the fourth quarter of this year with a screen resolution "5-6 times" higher than the iPad 2.
The numbers seemed absurd so we tracked down the original Economic Daily News report which only made it sound slightly less unbelievable. Thanks to translation assistance from @wayyuen, @wongwil, @agleung and Micah Fisher-Kirshner, here's the relevant portion in English:
Apple dominates the tablet computer market in the year of 2010; In 2011, a huge number of tablet computers have been introduced and given a general threat to Apple's leading status, Apple is thinking to give an aggressive counteroffensive.
Apple, in order to maintain a leading position, plans to launch iPad 3 in the fourth quarter by shortening the iPad Product life cycle. And also, try to push the screen resolution of iPad 3 to 2560x1920 , which is the ultimate resolution a 9.7 Inch Panel can achieve and doubles "Full HD".
The reasoning behind a second iPad update in 2011 is that Apple's competitors have been purely reacting to the launch of the iPad 2, and while they are ramping up their launches for later this year, Apple plans to trump them again by launching the iPad 3 quickly.
While we might have just dismissed the report in its entirety, this actually isn't the first time we've heard this line of reasoning. In February before the launch of the iPad 2, both DaringFireball and TechCrunch seemed to believe that Apple would make such a move. DaringFireball wrote at that time:
Thus, my gut feeling is that Apple will move the iPad to a September release schedule, alongside the iPods. But they wouldn't want to wait over a year and a half from the announcement of the original iPad to announce the second one -- not with these stakes, and not with so many serious competitors trying their best to catch up.
Perhaps the most unbelievable part of the story, however, is that Apple might try to reach a resolution of 2560x1920 in the new device. That resolution would be over 6x the number of pixels of the current iPad, and 2.5x the linear resolution in each dimension. The closest display we've heard of is Samsung's announcement of a 2560x1600 10.1" LCD display in May. Apple has been rumored to be bringing a "Retina" display to the iPad 3, though there has been little talk of it recently. To further add to the doubts, component manufacturers seem to be expecting the iPad 3 to arrive in 2012.
Economic Daily Times has been a spotty source of Apple rumors, so we don't have much confidence in this report, but felt it an interesting discussion piece given the previous "iPad 3 in 2011" rumors.