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Apple seen in 'no rush' to release iPad 3 as competitors struggle

Apple reportedly has prototypes for its third-generation iPad already circling in its supply chain, but no new model is expected to arrive this year as a true second-place tablet has yet to emerge.

Analyst Mark Moskowitz with J.P. Morgan revealed on Friday that his conversations with industry insiders have revealed that Apple's next iPad will not be available until sometime in 2012, even as prototypes for the device begin to circle in the supply chain.

"In our view, Apple should be in no rush," he said. "The other tablet entrants have stumbled so far, and that trend-line could persist deep into 2012."

Throughout 2011, reports persisted that Apple planned to release a high-end successor to the iPad 2, which was released in March. Rather than replace the iPad 2, it was said the new model would grow the iPad family, perhaps by offering a higher resolution display.

And while Apple works behind the scenes on its next iPad, in July an alleged "iPad 3" part was discovered. A report accompanying that component suggested the model would sport a "brand-new design."

But Apple should be in no rush to grow the iPad lineup, in Moskowitz's view, as competitors like Motorola and Research in Motion have disappointed with their own competing offerings. RIM announced on Thursday that it has shipped just 200,000 PlayBooks, far less than the 9.25 million iPads Apple sold in its most recent quarter.

Moskowitz believes the next tablet to stumble will come from Sony, which recently demoed new hardware. The analyst said he was not impressed by what he saw.

"To us, Sony's tablet lacks the refined, sleek feel of the iPad and its bezel-like back is not user-friendly," he wrote in a note to investors. "Lastly, the sony tablet runs on the Android O/S, which has failed to garner as much interest in tablets as it has in smartphones."

In fact, IDC announced on Wednesday that Apple's iPad 2 actually took market share away from Android tablets shipped in the second quarter of calendar 2011. Apple represented 68.3 percent of the market, growing its share as Android dropped to 26.8 percent of shipped hardware.

Moskowitz sees Amazon as having potential to create a true second-place tablet in the market, though he believes an e-reader carries "diminished user expectations" when compared to a full-fledged tablet, making the transition from e-ink to color touchscreen difficult. The device is expected to launch in the coming weeks with a 7-inch color touchscreen and a $250 price tag.

"Amazon's Kindle may not be a harbinger of the company's future success in tablets, in our view," he said. "Until we see how Amazon fares, we think the next potential threat to Apple's tablet dominance is not until late 2012 when Windows 8-based tablets could hit the market."