Apple iPad 2 shipments appear on track for April and the company will hold an event in March to launch the next generation of iPad, according to Barclays Capital.

Despite some concerns over the iPad 2 shipment timing, our colleagues suggest that the iPad 2 shipments are likely still on track for an April release with Apple having finalized the iPad 2 design and specifications in February. , said Ben Reitzes, an analyst at Barclays Capital.

Recently, rumors surfaced from research firm Yuanta Securities Co. stating that production bottlenecks at Apple Inc. manufacturing partner Hon Hai could delay the iPad 2 until June. But, Reuters later refuted the story saying the report was incorrect, citing sources familiar with the matter.

According to Barclays Capital Asia ex-Japan analyst Kirk Yang, Hon Hai set up its new production lines with assembly training and component sourcing in Chengdu this March and Yang expects iPad 2 shipments to start in early April, with 2 million units for that month.

The April shipment time frame (versus the earlier market expectation of small shipments in March) is primarily due to production line set up and training, and not likely due to any product re-design. None of the component suppliers Kirk Yang talked to today suggest any type of re-designs nor delays.

We continue to believe iPad sales will increase significantly in 2011, benefiting from a major upgrade that features a thinner and lighter design, along with cameras and FaceTime calling. We believe that Apple will hold an event in March to launch the new product, said Reitzes.

Reitzes said his iPad unit estimate for calendar first quarter is 5.1 million, which takes into account seasonality after the holiday buying season and a potential lull before iPad 2 ships in April.

Long term, Reitzes estimates 28.8 million iPad units for fiscal 2011 (33.7 million for calendar 2011) and 40 million for fiscal 2012 (42.1 million for calendar 2012) which are likely quite conservative.

According to International Data Corporation, Apple's iPad accounted for 87 percent of the tablet market during the third quarter of 2010.

For the latest first quarter ended December 25, 2010, Apple sold 7.33 million iPads and generated sales of $4.61 billion. As a result, iPad accounted for 17 percent of Apple's total sales of $26.74 billion.

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