Back in early July, Digitimes reported that Apple was looking at launching a tweaked third-generation iPad later this year, adopting new indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) display technology and making other changes that would enable the company to offer the device in a thinner body comparable to that of the iPad 2. The reports were taken with considerable skepticism given Digitimes' unreliable track record, but a number of sources have continued to make similar claims since that time.
Perhaps most notably, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported in late July that Apple is indeed planning a tweaked iPad with improved heat dissipation and component changes, although Kuo claimed that the changes would not involve a reduction in the device's thickness and would in fact be invisible to users. Kuo has proven remarkably accurate with his information in recent years, giving claims of at least some type of mid-cycle iPad revision additional weight.
CNET now offers some thoughts from NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim, who believes that Apple is indeed working on some of the previously-rumored changes, including a reduction in device thickness.
"We are seeing [Apple] work with panel makers to come out with a display that enables a thinner overall [product] with longer battery life," said Richard Shim, an analyst at DisplaySearch. [...]
DisplaySearch last week published a research note about the updated iPad Retina, which said "Apple is working with the LCD supply chain to refresh the display, including revising the LED backlight design for cost reduction, refining the thermal solution, reducing the weight by replacing some components, and fine tuning the panel transmittance for lower power consumption."
That would include using an IGZO display to reduce the display's thickness and heat, Shim added. Samsung would be a likely manufacturer, he said.
While Shim says that the thinner display "enables a thinner overall [product]", he does appear to stop short of specific claims that Apple will reduce the iPad's thickness with this revision. Shim also hedges a bit in noting that signs within Apple's supply chain do not necessarily indicate that an actual product update is imminent, but DisplaySearch is modeling for shipments of seven million refreshed full-size iPads in October of this year.
Claims of an "early" iPad refresh are of course not new for 2012, as Apple had been rumored by several sources to be looking to launch the Retina iPad in late 2011, a scenario that did not come to pass as Apple stuck to its annual update cycle in releasing the current iPad in March of this year. Consequently, it would not be surprising if a similar scenario played out this time around, with at least the more significant rumored changes such as a slimmer body not actually appearing until the debut of a full-fledged fourth-generation iPad in early 2013.