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Friday, September 17, 2010, 04:45 am PT (07:45 am ET)

Suppliers preparing for 2nd-gen iPad launch in Q1 2011 - report

Apple's overseas touch panel and reinforced glass suppliers are said to be preparing for the launch of Apple's second-generation iPad in the first quarter of 2011.

According to Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes, the suppliers are completing validation for the second-generation iPad, which will maintain the same 9.7-inch screen when it debuts in the first quarter of 2011.

"Component suppliers of iPad are expected to start shipments for the second-generation iPad at the beginning of 2011," the report said.

Specifically cited suppliers were TPK Touch Solutions, WinTek, Cando, Cimei Innolux. Together, they are said to be validating "ultra-thin glass-based touch panels with Apple."

As reported last week by AppleInsider, Apple plans to move aggressively on adding FaceTime functionality to its entire line of iOS devices, leaving the iPad as the last device to receive the upgrade. A person with proven knowledge of the company's future plans indicated that an iPad equipped with a forward facing camera is already in the advanced testing stages at Apple.

Though Apple typically follows an annual upgrade pattern for its devices, it was said that Apple could refresh the iPad line ahead of this year's holiday season. That person indicated that the FaceTime-equipped iPad was tracking for an introduction no later than the first quarter of 2011.

FaceTime is Apple's open standard for video chat. Currently available on the iPhone 4 and fourth-generation iPod touch, it requires Wi-Fi to operate.