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Thursday, December 16, 2010, 08:30 am PT (11:30 am ET)

Apple expected to produce 6 million second-gen iPads per month

Apple reportedly believes its anticipated second-generation iPad will be even more popular than the first model, as the company is expected to order production of 6 million per month.

If true, that number would be significantly higher than the 4 million per quarter produced for the current iPad, according to DigiTimes. Overseas sources indicated that Apple added two additional touch panel makers, Chimei Innolux and Cando, for production of the "iPad 2."

The two new suppliers are in addition to current suppliers Wintek, Sintek Photronics, and TPK Touch Solutions. The expanded number of partners will reportedly allow Apple to produce even more iPads per month, reaching the 6 million target.

Sources indicated that suppliers will begin shipments to Apple in January or February. That's consistent with previous reports that the device would begin shipping within 100 days to allow Apple to stock up for a launch by April.

Suppliers also indicated that Apple has no interest in producing a 7-inch iPad, smaller and lighter than the current 9.7-inch model. The news is noteworthy because it was DigiTimes that repeatedly reported for months that Apple was set to release a 7-inch iPad.

Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs poured water on those rumors in October during his company's fourth-quarter conference call. He said that he believes competing products, like the 7-inch Samsung Galaxy Tab, have chosen a smaller size to reduce costs rather than usability.

"When we make decisions on 7-inch tablets, it's not about cost," Jobs said. "It's about the value of the product when you factor in the software."