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Rumor: Apple moving up next-gen iPad mini production, release date still unknown

Component makers for the second-generation iPad mini are supposedly preparing for an earlier-than-expected time to market, says one analyst, though the exact timeframe is in question as Apple has yet to complete the global rollout of the first-generation model.

According to a research note from RBC Capital Markets analyst Doug Freedman, who is in China visiting supply chain sources, chipmakers are already making preparations for the second-generation iPad mini, reports CNET's Brooke Crothers.

"iPad Mini Gen-2: Apple's gen-2 iPad mini is getting pulled-in, and is likely to have several new suppliers, with TXN gaining content," Freedman wrote.

Crothers believes the term "pulled-in" implies that Apple may be moving up its production schedule for the mid-size tablet, but notes the information is of little use as no rumors have surfaced pertaining to the next-gen mini's release.

It appears that Texas Instruments, referred to as "TXN" in Freedman's note, will build on its already important presence as a component supplier for future iDevice products. It remains unclear what "new suppliers" will be added to the roster, though Apple has reportedly been looking for ways to diversify the supply of crucial internal components away from rival Samsung.

The report comes on the heels of a separate rumor that claimed Apple will be focusing its efforts on bumping the next-gen iPad mini's screen resolution to be more in line with current Retina display offerings like the fourth-generation iPad and iPhone 5.

Apple is still in the midst of completing a worldwide rollout, most recently debuting the 7.9-inch tablet to the Chinese market at the start of December. It was reported on Tuesday that the Chinese Telecommunication Equipment Certification Center granted network licenses for cellular-enabled versions of the iPad mini, with the units though to be launching soon through Apple partner carriers China Unicom and China Telecom.