Chinese electronics maker Foxconn Electronics, a manufacturer of Apple Inc's products, plans to begin shipping the new version of the iPad tablet device, known as iPad 2, as early as the end of February, DigiTimes reported on Tuesday.

The report, citing unnamed sources from the Taiwan-based components maker, said Apple originally planned to start mass production in January.

Those plans were postponed since the device's firmware, or set of software instructions that are programed into the device's hardware, was still being tested, according to the report.

The iPad 2 will mainly be supplied by plants in Shenzhen belonging to Foxconn, the parent company of Hon Hai, DigiTimes reported.

An initial shipment of 400,000 to 600,000 units are expected.

An Apple spokesman was not immediately reachable.

(Reporting by Ritsuko Ando; Editing by Derek Caney)