Speculation abounds as Apple reportedly orders shipments of iPad2, shoring up inventoryFoxconn, the Taiwanese maker of electronic products including Apple Inc.'s iPhone and iPad, has been ordered to start shipping the next generation version of the iPad within 100 days, according to a report in DigiTimes.

The report estimates that the initial shipment will contain anywhere between 400,000 to 600,000 units of Apple's tablet, a veritable hit since its release this past April. Although Apple is notorious for the veil of secrecy it shrouds around its products, reports suggest that the production cycle for its iPad has shortened, potentially allowing the company to start selling the iPad 2 by the end of February instead of April. An April start would mark a full year since the original iPad launch and keep with Apple's normal product upgrade strategy.

However, there is a difference between when Apple orders more units of a product and when that product hits store shelves. Foxconn reportedly shipped 6 million iPads last quarter, but Apple reported selling only 4.19 million. According to analysts, Apple may have an inventory surplus of roughly 1.8 million iPads, prompting speculation that Apple will stop importing as many units towards the end of January as it digests the built up inventory in preparation for the new product launch.

According to the report in DigiTimes: "Apple currently has no plans to stop production" of the first generation version of the iPad. The newer version is rumored to be outfitted with a digital camera that will enable users to FaceTime with other iPad and iPhone users.
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