Apple Inc is likely to launch a more expensive tablet model than the original iPad and iPad 2 thanks to higher prices for some major components, research firm TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said in a press release on Friday.
Pointing to information gathered from iPad component supply chains, the Taipei-based TrendForce said the retail price of the new iPad, known as the iPad3, is expected to rise by 10 percent from that of the earlier models — if mass production is unable to offset the cost increase of panel, backlight module and battery components.
“Even with advances in manufacturing technology advancement and mass purchasing helping to reduce costs, it will still be hard to cancel out the cost increase and set the price of new iPad at US$499,” TrendForce said in the e-mailed release.
The researcher said the new iPad is expected to hit the market in the first quarter of next year, rather than by the end of this year as some institutes have expected.
The new model is also likely to be targeted at the high-end segment of the market, which has specific needs, it added.
Global tablet sales are predicted to reach 63.6 million units this year, more than triple last year’s 17.6 million units, with Apple accounting for 73.38 percent of the market with 46.7 million units for this year, research company Gartner Inc said last week.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Gartner said Apple would see its iPad sales rise to 69 million units this year, or 66.7 percent of the market, and its share would be still as high as 45.56 percent in 2015, Gartner forecast.
Based on TrendForce’s supply-chain checks, the high-resolution panels for the new iPad would be supplied by Japanese manufacturer Sharp Corp and South Korean makers LG Electronics Inc and Samsung Electronics Co.
To work with these high--resolution panels, the new iPad will need brighter LED backlight modules, with several Japanese makers, including Toyoda Gosei Co, to be tasked with this project, the researcher said.
Taiwan’s Simplo Technology Co (新普科技) and DynaPack International Technology Corp (順達) will remain the key battery suppliers for the new iPad, but they will be required to increase battery capacity by 50 percent compared with that used in iPad 2, according to TrendForce.
While there is wider market speculation that the new iPad will adopt an A6 processor produced by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) in its 28 nanometer process technology, TrendForce said it is not yet known if TSMC could make the A6 processor in time for production of the new iPad.
Warren Lau (劉華仁), a Samsung Securities (Asia) Ltd analyst based in Hong Kong, last week said the chance that TSMC would win processor orders from Apple in the fourth quarter are slim in light of Samung's aggressive move to secure both the A5 and A6 orders.
"We believe it is unlikely that TSMC will be able to fabricate A5s in 2011 to 2012; and that there is less than a 50 percent probability for the A6 in 2012," Lau wrote in a client note on Monday last week.
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