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Monday, December 06, 2010, 09:35 pm PT (12:35 am ET)

Foxconn rumored to ship next-gen iPad in 100 days for April launch

Apple manufacturing partner Foxconn will begin shipping Apple's next-generation iPad within the next 100 days, allowing Apple to stock up for an April launch, a new report claims.

After checks with Taiwan-based component makers, industry publication DigiTimes reported Tuesday that Foxconn is set to ship the iPad 2 by the end of February 2011, with initial shipments of 400,000-600,000 units. Tuesday's report echoes an earlier report from the publication that claimed suppliers would ramp up shipments of iPad 2 components in the first quarter of 2011.

Apple had reportedly planned to begin mass production of the device in January, but ongoing testing of the new iPad's firmware has apparently forced Apple to postpone its schedule. But the iPad is still expected to launch in April, a year after the first-generation device debuted.

According to the report, Foxconn's new production plants in Chengdu are still in "pilot production," so the iPad 2 will be mainly supplied by the company's Shenzhen plants.

In preparation for a spring launch of the second generation of Apple's successful tablet device, production of the original iPad is expected to drop off in early February. According to DigiTimes' sources, Apple will still place orders for an estimated 1.6-1.8 million iPads through the end of January before reducing orders.

In September, sources told AppleInsider that Apple would introduce FaceTime-equipped next-gen iPads by the end of the first quarter of 2011, ahead of the usual 12-month product cycle. In November, rumors emerged that the next iPad will be a "world mode" device with both GSM and CDMA radios, allowing it to work on a variety of networks.

In the U.S., Verizon has already begun selling the iPad, though it currently only offers the Wi-Fi-only model bundled with a MiFi 2200 Intelligent Mobile Hotspot. The iPad 3G model is not compatible with Verizon's CDMA network.