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Thursday, October 29, 2009, 05:10 am PT (08:10 am ET)

Apple engineers ramp up overseas trips for tablet - report

Apple employees are reportedly taking numerous trips to manufacturing plants in China, including some scheduled during the upcoming holiday season, as the company's long-rumored tablet comes closer to reality.

Citing an anonymous source, The Business Insider said that Apple engineers have been taking numerous trips between the U.S. and Asia recently to visit manufacturing plants where the 10-inch touchscreen device will go into production. That manufacturer is likely to be Foxconn, the Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer who has partnered with Apple on numerous products, and earlier this month was rumored to have secured the production of the still-unannounced tablet.

"A source tells us a system integration engineer friend of his at Apple has been ramping up his travels back and forth between China lately, broadcasting word of his travels over the Internet," the report said. "There's even a few weeks scheduled during the Christmas holiday season."

Christmas trips would confirm what sources have told AppleInsider: that the Cupertino, Calif., company is racing towards a launch in the first quarter of 2010 for its 3G-enabled multi-touch device.

Earlier reports suggested the initial run in early 2010 would include the production of 300,000 to 400,000 devices for sale.

Rumors as of late have said that Apple has been courting publishers of newspapers and magazines to provide their content on the tablet. The belief is the device would serve as an e-reader, as well as a media player and mobile Web browser.