A brief Reuters report detailing the launch of the new MacBook Air featured an almost throw-away line at the end stating that:

the iPad3 scheduled to be launched in the fourth quarter would have image resolution 5-6 times higher than iPad2.

MacRumors has published an English translation of the original Taiwanese Economic Daily News report referenced by Reuters which offers the proposed reasoning behind the move

Apple dominates the tablet computer market in the year of 2010; In 2011, a huge number of tablet computers have been introduced and given a general threat to Apple’s leading status, Apple is thinking to give an aggressive counteroffensive.
….
Apple, in order to maintain a leading position, plans to launch iPad 3 in the fourth quarter by shortening the iPad Product life cycle. And also, try to push the screen resolution of iPad 3 to 2560×1920 , which is the ultimate resolution a 9.7 Inch Panel can achieve and doubles “Full HD”.

There have been rumors floating around since February that the iPad 3 could see the light of day before the end of 2011, however a refresh this early would represent a pretty large deviation from the usually predictable Apple product life cycle.

Should an iPad 3 actually surface in fourth-quarter 2011 with a screen resolution as impressive as 2560×1920, the only thing for certain is that iPad 2 owners will be left with a rather bitter taste in the mouth.


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