Sat, Dec 11, 2010 - Page 11 News List

Apple suppliers point to new double-camera iPad

HUSH, HUSH:Wintek, Simplo and Largan are among the firms rumored to be supplying components for the new iPad, which is expected to be launched next month

Reuters and AFP, HONG KONG, TOKYO and TAIPEI

Component suppliers for Apple Inc’s iPad are gearing up for a new round of production in the first quarter, sources said yesterday, with one saying the product will be a revamp of the popular tablet computer including front and back-mounted cameras.

Touchscreen chip designer Wintek Corp (勝華), battery maker Simplo Technology Co (新普科技) and AVY Precision Technology Inc (應華精密), an unlisted maker of covers for electronic products, are among suppliers for the next batch of iPads, four people familiar with the situation said.

Two could only confirm they were ramping up for a new round of production in the first quarter for components previously supplied for the original iPad, while two said the ramp-up was for a new iPad.

One of those said the revamped model would feature cameras on the front and rear, while the other said the new model would be slimmer, lighter and have a better resolution display.

Camera module makers Genius Electronic Optical Co (玉晶光電) and Largan Precision Co (大立光) were also starting new supply deals with Apple, two sources said, but neither could confirm for which product the modules were intended.

The iPad is expected to make up about 70 percent of the 60 million tablet PCs to be shipped next year, brokerage SinoPac Securities Corp (永豐金證券) said in a note.

The introduction of a revamped iPad in the first half of next year would also be in line with the company’s previous practice, with small changes made to its products about once every year. The original iPad was launched on Jan. 27.

All the people familiar with the supply chain situation declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak to the media on the topic and because of Apple’s obsession with secrecy.

Shares in Wintek rose 5.3 percent in Taipei, Genius was down 2.1 percent, while Largan and Simplo were little moved.

Spokespeople at all five companies either declined to comment or were not immediately available. An Apple spokeswoman also declined to comment.

Component makers generally do not know what a finished product will look like or what software it will run on because they are only responsible for manufacturing one part before passing it on for assembly.

Apple is expected to ship 12.9 million iPads this year, with -shipments rising to 36.5 million next year, research firm iSuppli said in July, reflecting an 84 percent share of the tablet PC market.

The success of iPad has sent electronics makers such as Dell, Acer and BlackBerry maker Research in Motion scrambling to gain a slice of the growing tablet computer market, and Sharp Corp of Japan also launched its multifunctional Galapagos tablet computer yesterday. The device allows users to read e-books, as well as major newspapers and popular magazines, delivered at designated times.

The name is a pun on the term “Galapagos syndrome” — in reference to the isolated islands that helped Charles Darwin form his theory of evolution — and its association with Japan’s tendency to be less influenced by global trends.

The Galapagos, equipped with wireless telecom functions, comes in two models — a 10.8-inch screen priced at ¥54,800 (US$655) and a 5.5-inch screen for ¥39,800.

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