As the new year approaches, there's a surge in rumors about the next-generation iPad. Consistent reports have indicated that the tablet will get a refresh ahead of its one-year anniversary in April, which would mean that production should start ramping up right about now. Rumors out of the Asian supply chain say that suppliers have been picked for the 2G iPad, and one financial analyst is claiming that the new model will have a "world-mode" chip that can run on both AT&T's and Verizon's networks.
DigiTimes, the hit-or-miss electronics industry gossip newspaper out of Taiwan, says that Apple has chosen circuit board suppliers
for the 2011 iPad. Production of any-layer high-density interconnect (HDI) circuit boards will begin at Ibiden, Tripod Technology and TTM Technologies in December, according to Ingrid Lee and Jessie Shen at DigiTimes, and four more suppliers will be added before shipments begin in February 2011.
Meanwhile, Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair said that the next-generation iPad will have a GSM-CDMA Qualcomm chip
, allowing the same device to run on both the AT&T and the Verizon network, without having to buy a MiFi mobile hotspot. In a letter to his clients, Blair also said that his sources tell him that the new iPad will have a front-facing camera and a slimmer, unibody design. "The new iPad is thinner than the existing model and is essentially made from one piece of metal with no pins needed," Blair wrote. "We understand it requires a new type of manufacturing process as a result, similar to the company's unibody approach seen in MacBooks."
Unsubstantiated rumors like these, of course, should always be taken with a grain of salt. However, the reports are broadly consistent with what's been reported for some months now, and make sense in terms of Apple's developing relationship with Verizon. A story in yesterday's Wall Street Journal
, for instance, indicates that Verizon's 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) network drew Apple's interest, and helped secure the deal allowing Verizon to carry the iPad.