Expect iPad 2 from Apple next April, says analyst

Front-facing camera for FaceTime will be biggest add

Apple will roll out a second-generation iPad next April, a year after the original's launch, a Wall Street analyst said today.

According to Brian Marshall of Gleacher & Co., Apple will take an annual refresh path for its tablet, just as it has for the iPhone, which has seen new models introduced in June or July the last three years.

"I think April is the proper time-frame for an iPad 2," said Marshall, using a label that's been bandied about for the next iteration of Apple's tablet. "Since I'm projecting that Apple will release a CDMA iPhone in March, both will help to equalize Apple's seasonality."

Marshall's comment about a CDMA iPhone refers to reports, as well as his sources among Asian parts suppliers, that Apple will launch an iPhone next March able to run on mobile networks such as Verizon in the U.S.

AT&T, Apple's current exclusive partner in the United States, relies on the more widely-used GSM (global system for mobile communications) technology.

Analysts and bloggers have been speculating on the composition of the next-generation iPad -- everything from a thinner form factor to a higher-resolution display -- but Marshall said the second iPad will be essentially the same as the first.

With one exception.

"It will be the same form factor, but with dual-camera functionality," said Marshall, echoing others who have bet on two cameras in the next iPad. That would let iPad users run FaceTime, the video calling software Apple rolled out with the iPhone 4 last summer.

Early tear-downs of the original iPad revealed that Apple left room inside the iPad for a front-facing camera. Aaron Vronko of Rapid Repair noted the space during his April disassembly. "It looks like it's all ready for the camera, even including a hole in the glass for the lens," said Vronko.

But don't expect more storage in the iPad 2, warned Marshall. "I don't think we'll see higher-capacity iPads," he said, placing his bet on the same 16GB, 32GB and 64GB configurations Apple now sells at prices between $499 and $829.

Through the end of September, Apple sold approximately 7.5 million iPads. Marshall anticipates that Apple will sell another 6 million iPads before the end of the year for a 2010 total of 13.5 million.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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