Report: iPad 2 to Ship in February, Launch in April

A new DigiTimes report says Apple (s aapl) just told Foxconn to begin building a healthy launch day stockpile of the iPad 2 over the course of the next 100 days, with the explicit goal of being ready to ship by February 2011 for an April launch. 400,000 to 600,000 units of the new device are said to be slated for manufacture initially.

According to Foxconn’s sources, Apple originally planned to have the iPad 2 shipped by January 2011, but the device’s firmware isn’t yet ready for a wide release and needs more testing, leading to a postponed release timeline. Though devices are said to be shipping in February, the iPad 2 won’t make its way into consumer hands until April 2011, which is normal for Apple’s supply chain. An April launch would mark a one-year product upgrade cycle for the iPad, which is in keeping with Apple’s schedule for the rest of its iOS devices.

Foxconn reportedly shipped around 6 million iPads in the third quarter of 2010, leaving around 1.8 million surplus units after all channel sales for the fourth quarter according to DigiTimes. Apple will greatly reduce its ordering in January according to the blog’s sources, in order to try to divest itself of its existing iPad inventory before the launch of the iPad 2.

Taiwan-based DigiTimes has a mixed track record when it comes to predicting future products releases, but it does appear to have genuine connections to many of Apple’s suppliers. This particular report seems sound, if for no other reason than that the information it relates isn’t really  a surprise to any Apple watchers. It’s basically a textbook breakdown of how Apple approaches the release of a new product iteration. We’ll see an iPad 2 in 2011, that much is certain, and April seems like a safe bet for a specific release window. This new DigiTimes report only serves to reinforce that anticipated timeline.

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