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Apple rumored to offer free engraving for holiday iPad orders

A new rumor suggests Apple will extend its free engraving option from the iPod to the iPad this fall, allowing customers to customize their touchscreen tablet purchased in time for the holidays.

Citing an anonymous Apple employee, tech blog Erictric reported Monday that Apple will add an engraving option for the iPad later this year. The alleged addition is said to come this holiday season.

For years, Apple has allowed its online customers to have custom messages engraved on the back of an iPod. The feature can be used to create a personalized message or contact information, and allows users to distinguish their device in a sea of similar models.

The report indicated that Apple would have liked to offer iPad engraving earlier, but due to strong demand for the product, the company has been unable to do so. Apple sold 3 million iPads in the product's first 80 days, and company officials said last week they are unsure when they will be able to catch up with consumer demand.

The report also indicated that the engraving is expected to be free, like it is with the longstanding iPod option.

Even if the customized engraving option does not come to be, Apple's iPad is expected to have a blockbuster holiday season this year. One recent report said the touchscreen device will be the Tickle Me Elmo-type must-have product of 2010. Market analysts at iSuppli expect Apple to sell a total 12.9 million units in calendar 2010.