Apple Inc. may introduce a thinner iPad in the first half of next year with features such as a camera for video-calling and chips made by Qualcomm Inc. that let it work on global wireless networks, analysts say.
Production may start as early as January, with an introduction to the public by February or March, said Mike Abramsky, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets in Toronto. The device will feature Qualcomm chips that allow a Web connection on both GSM and CDMA networks, the dominant radio standards used in mobile phones, said Brian Blair of Wedge Partners, who said he expects an April debut.
“They can sell it around the globe without having to worry if it works with one carrier’s network or another carrier’s network,” said Blair, who is based in New York.
Infineon Technologies AG, whose wireless business is being acquired by Intel Corp., now makes those radio chips for the iPad.
The announcement’s timing would put the iPad on an annual cycle of introductions similar to those of iPhones and iPods.
Paul Jacobs, chief executive officer of San Diego-based Qualcomm, declined to comment when asked in a Nov. 16 interview if his company’s chips will be part of new products by Apple. Apple declined to comment, said Natalie Harrison, a spokeswoman.
Suppliers of parts to the iPad have had fourth-quarter orders cut by about 10 percent, said Patrick Wang an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities in New York. The most likely explanation is that Apple wants to draw down inventory ahead of the new model’s launch in the first quarter of 2011, he said.
Bigger Than IPod
Apple, based in Cupertino, California, fell $1.70 to $306.73 at 4 p.m. New York time in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. The shares have risen 46 percent this year. Qualcomm, up 3.7 percent this year, advanced 24 cents to $47.96 in Nasdaq trading.
The iPad, which went on sale in April, accounted for about 13.7 percent of Apple’s revenue last quarter, more than the nine-year-old old iPod media player. The device helped establish a market for tablet computers that blend the capabilities of a smartphone and notebook computer, leading rivals such Samsung Electronics Co. and Research In Motion Ltd. to introduce their own models.
Apple may sell 48 million iPads next year, said Blair.
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