Apple (AAPL), which revolutionized tablet computer market with its iPad, could double the resolution of its next-generation iPad (iPad 2) in a move that would put Apple far ahead from the reach of its competitors.

Apple, which is set to start mass producing its next-generation iPad 2 at the end of February, is said to boost the resolution of iPad 2 to 2048 by 1536, Digitimes reported citing sources from upstream component makers.

The current iPad has a resolution of 1024 by 768 pixels at 132 pixels per inch (ppi), while iPad's closest competitor Samsung Galaxy Tab has a resolution of 1024 by 600 pixels at 169 ppi.

Apple has also recently started adjusting its iBooks 1.1 application with some designs for bookmark icons to allow it to support the larger resolution, Digitimes added citing sources.

The larger resolution should provide the company's App developers more convenience, while all future applications will be able to run under any of Apple's machines including the 27-inch iMac, sources added.

Apple is expected to ship more than 40 million units of iPad in 2011, the sources added.  In addition, Apple is estimated to have ordered 1.6 million to 1.8 million iPads in January with the order volumes expected to drop for February.

Apple iPad 2 is expected to be announced by April and will be shipped immediately and its initial shipments are expected to be in the range of 400,000-600,000 units.

Speculations are rife that iPad 2 would be lighter and faster than its predecessor and may include a USB port, front facing camera, and 3-axis gyroscopes.  Meanwhile, images of a new iPad case have appeared online that seem to show space for a SD card slot.

Also, there were rumors that Apple is readying a world iPad, implying that it will run on both GSM and CDMA networks. Incidentally, Verizon, one of the iPad's carriers in U.S., uses CDMA technology.

Apple's iPad is a tablet computer marketed as a platform for audio and visual media such as books, periodicals, movies, music, and games, as well as web content. Apple released the iPad in April 2010, and sold 3 million of the devices in 80 days. The price of iPad starts as low as $499 for a 16GB version with Wi-Fi.

In U.S., Verizon and AT&T carries iPad. Initially, the iPad was only available online at The Apple Store as well as the company's retail locations. But now, the iPad is available through many retailers including Amazon, Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

For the first quarter ended Dec.25, Apple sold 7.33 million iPads.