Can you iPad me now? Soon.
The next generation of Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) trendsetting iPad tablet may come in a Verizon Wireless-friendly model, according to unnamed industry sources speaking to Taiwan's DigiTimes.
Apple will supposedly add a third line of iPads in a few months that utilizes CDMA chips for internal connectivity to Verizon's (NYSE: VZ ) network. Several smaller stateside carriers also rely on the CDMA standard.
For now, Verizon has been bundling the Wi-Fi models with a Novatel Wireless (Nasdaq: NVTL ) MiFi mobile hotspot to compete with the 3G models running on AT&T's (NYSE: T ) network.
Having three lines of iPads in what will likely continue to be different storage configurations may be confusing at first. Some consumers may still be perplexed over why the 3G model costs $130 more than the Wi-Fi units. However, this may also be Apple's first step in embracing Verizon Wireless customers. If the CDMA iPads take off, there isn't any doubt that we'll see a Verizon iPhone once Apple's exclusivity deal with AT&T ends.
Reports of a second-generation iPad hitting the market soon have been intensifying in recent weeks, though most of the speculation has been about specs and release dates.
Component makers have been telling DigiTimes that mass production of the new iPads may begin as early as the end of January. If that's the case, the new iPads may hit the market before the first anniversary of the original iPad's debut in April.
If so, Apple may be simply trying to get in ahead of Research in Motion's (Nasdaq: RIMM ) aggressively priced PlayBook or combat the early success of Samsung's Galaxy Tab.
The new iPads will likely feature at least one camera. DigiTimes reports that the new models will likely tackle the smudging and reflective screen shortcomings relative to Amazon.com's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) Kindle and other dedicated e-readers.
The stakes are substantial. Industry sources claim that Apple plans to ship 40 million of the new iPads in 2011, far more than the pace of the original iPad this year.
The next few weeks are about to get very interesting in the tablet space. Stay close.
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