Apple, Companies, Hardware

And Now – Verizon iPad

Just as the dust has settled for Monday’s Verizon iPhone announcement (live coverage, FAQ), the rumor mill is abuzz with iPad 2-related chatter.

All checks seem to indicate that Apple will add at least one CDMA-compliant iPad 2 model to the lineup to cater for the Verizon Wireless’ network and other CDMA carriers in Asia, China and India.

Big media like Bloomberg is now jumping on the Verizon iPad bandwagon too with the most reliable source – Verizon’s high-ranked executive:

Verizon will get an embedded chip in the iPad for use on its network, Francis Shammo, chief financial officer of Verizon Communications Inc., the parent of the wireless unit, said today in an interview in New York. IPad users currently need an extra device to connect to Verizon’s network. Shammo declined to say when the change may happen.

Now that the news is semi-official, Digitimes chimed in with the news that iPad and iPhone screen supplier Wintek is investing $13 million to buy land to expand its touch panel production facilities. According to today’s report by Digitimes, "Wintek’s monthly medium-size touch panel capacity is expected to reach 5.5 million units at the end of 2011." 

The rumor-mill says iPad 2 is imminent. It will sport slimmer design and special screen coating to reduce screen glare and finger smudges, as well as two cameras, a wide-band speaker and possibly a USB port and an SD card slot, people in the know claim.

The gizmo might ship as soon as February or as late as mid-April, depending on who you ask. Physical cases purportedly molded to iPad 2’s redesigned appearance appeared at CES last week. In the meantime, estimates as to how many units iPad 2 could sell vary wildly. In its fiscal 2010 third and fourth quarter Apple reported 3.27 million and 4.19 million iPad units, respectively, for a total of 7.5 million iPads. Apple is set to report fiscal 2011 first quarter earnings next Tuesday, January 18.

Because the upcoming earnings release covers the holiday quarter, expectations are high regarding iPad performance. RBC Capital Markets is bracing for six million units, with their analyst Mike Abramsky calling the tablet "a monster holiday hit."