Display Panel Shipment Plans Suggest Apple Will Offer iPad 2 Alongside iPad 3
The question of whether Apple will continue to offer the existing iPad 2 as a lower-cost option alongside the forthcoming iPad 3 has been the subject of a fair amount of rumor and speculation, but if new display panel shipment plans provided to Digitimes are correct, it appears that the iPad 2 will indeed live on.
According to the report, production of the "Retina" resolution iPad 3 display panels at 2048x1536 pixels will surpass that of the lower-resolution 1024x768 iPad 2 panels by the second quarter of this year, but Apple's suppliers will still push out approximately 25 million iPad 2 panels in 2012. That will be down from an estimated 48 million panels in 2011, but still a substantial number. Sources suggest that Apple's suppliers will also be pushing out approximately 40 million iPad 3 panels this year for a total of 65 million iPads between the two models.
With fewer than one million panels shipped in the fourth quarter of 2011, Apple will keep increasing the shipment volume of panels for use in the new version of iPad to 6.0-7.0 million panels in the first quarter and 10.0 million units in the third quarter of 2012, the sources pointed out.
In the meantime, Apple has downwardly adjusted shipments of iPad 2 panels from the peak of 16.0 million panels in the third quarter to 10.0 million units in the fourth quarter of 2011 and further to 7.0-8.0 million units in the first quarter of 2012, the sources indicated. Thus, the shipment volume of panels for use in the new version of iPad will surpass that of iPad 2 panels in the second quarter of 2012, the sources noted.
Digitimes has had a spotty record regarding Apple's product plans, but it does sometimes offer at least reasonably accurate information on production volumes from the company's supply chain. Consequently, it does seem likely that any volume of iPad 2 display panels approaching the rumored number would be indicative of continued iPad 2 production well beyond the introduction of the iPad 3.
Several reports have indicated that the iPad 2 will carry on at a lower entry price of $399 or perhaps even lower, a move rumored to be planned in part to counter Amazon's smaller Android-based Kindle Fire priced at $199. The iPad 3 is said to be set for a March debut and will reportedly offer LTE connectivity, a quad-core processor, and the high-resolution Retina display.