Rumor Has It: New Parts and Supplier Details Emerge for Apple Tablet

Everything’s beginning to come together for the launch of Apple’s (s aapl) tablet — quite literally, in fact, as Apple’s suppliers for the device begin to ship component parts or are ramping up for production in the near future. That’s according to a report issued by news service Reuter’s Friday afternoon.

Two Taiwanese companies are cited in the report as having received the contracts for the aluminum casings and the touchscreen panels that the upcoming Apple slate will use in its construction. If true, this means that the tablet will indeed sport an aluminum enclosure, and I’d expect something akin to the unibody construction process used in the MacBook Pro casing to be applied here. Imagine the build quality of that machine, without a hinge as a point of weakness. It’ll be quite hardy.

AVY Precision Technology is said to be the supplier for the cases. The company manufactures covers for various electronic devices. The cases haven’t yet begun production, though they will very soon, according to Reuters’ sources:

“Production of the cases will begin in February, so everything points to a second-quarter launch right now,” said one of the sources. “It doesn’t take that long for the company to assemble the PC together, but a second-quarter shipment date is what we’re looking at now.”

As for the touchscreen panels, the sources cite TPK Solutions as yet another supplier for that component of the devices. It joins Wintek, which is reportedly already producing panels for the tablet, too. Apple seems to be preparing for a fairly ambitious initial production run. The panels have reportedly already begun shipping.

The timing of the orders and shipments implies a second-quarter 2010 launch for the device.

I’m of the opinion that this new rumor is fairly reliable, for a few reasons. First, at CES last week, many manufacturers took the opportunity to try to steal some of Apple’s tablet thunder by unveiling slate-type computers and media devices themselves, Microsoft (s msft) and HP (s hpq) being the most notable among them. Second, in the wake of the Mac Observer piece by a former Apple marketing manager revealing the internal workings of and purposes behind Apple’s intentional leaks, this latest rumor seems to fit the bill pretty well.

Stoking the rumor fires with relatively inconsequential information about parts suppliers manages to draw some of the attention back to Apple and away from competitors, while not really revealing any major new details about the upcoming device — except for the aluminum casing thing, which could actually be pretty cool.