Smaller, OLED iPads Launching in Q4 2010 - Report

5.6-inch and 7-inch models to ship with a focus on e-reading

A regular source of hardware-related rumors is reporting that Apple plans to launch two new iPads in the forthcoming months. Reportedly, the devices will boast a smaller form factor, employing 5.6-inch and 7-inch OLED panels. The devices are said to specifically cater the e-book market.

The two tablets are launching “as soon as in the fourth quarter of 2010 with Compal Electronics having a chance to receive the orders,” sources from component makers reportedly said. According to DigiTimes, the sources also noted that “Apple has recently placed new iPad orders to Taiwan-based component makers for the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 with 9.7-inch, 5.6-inch and 7-inch models all included.”

Apple’s existing 9.7-inch iPad will not be left unattended, according to the same people, who added that Cupertino is now tapping Chimei Innolux (CMI) to become one of its panel suppliers. The sources specifically said that “the new 5.6- and 7-inch iPads will mainly target the e-book reader market,” while the 9.7-inch model will continue to target multimedia entertainment, the report states.

Samsung Electronics and LG Display are known to have been heavily investing in the development of OLED panels, the sources said, putting Apple in a good position to expand its product line, although Samsung Electronics' current OLED capacity is not even enough to supply the company's own products, said Digitimes Research senior analyst Mingchi Kuo. With Samsung being the largest OLED maker, “the capacity is unlikely to be enough to supply Apple's new devices for the fourth quarter of 2010,” Kuo reportedly pointed out. However, he said, “tight OLED capacity may ease in the second half of 2011,” DigiTimes reports.

In related news, Apple is also rumored to be planning the introduction of a touchscreen iPod shuffle, following the leak of a small hardware component akin to the iPad’s screen.

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