The iPad 2, much expected by customers and feared by competitors, is due to be shipped by the end of February 2011.

'DigiTimes' cited sources stating that Foxconn Electronics plant in Shenzhen received a notification from Apple that it should ship iPad 2 by the end of February. The report said that Apple had earlier decided to ship iPad 2 in January but delayed the shipping as the firmware was still in testing phase.

However, this does not mean that iPad 2 will be shipped to customers in February but will follow the much-touted April launch schedule.

'DigiTimes' had reported in November that notebook players had stated that if the launch of the next version of iPad in April 2011 is true then it will seriously weaken other PC vendors' tablet sales. Also the sources forecast a sharp decline in demand for tablets in the third quarter of 2011 after the war of the tablets peaks in the second quarter.

Strategy Analytics data suggests that Apple's iPad was the hands-down winner for Q3 2010 and Q2 2010 boasting 4.2 million and 3.3 million iPad shipments respectively. Apple ruled the global tablet OS market share as well with Apple iOS holding 94.3 percent and 95.5 percent share of the market for Q2 and Q3 respectively in 2010. Android tablets booked 0.1 million units in shipments in both the quarters of 2010.

Other reports suggest that the next iPad could sport a 5 MP and a VGA camera which will be supplied by its iPhone camera supplier Omnivision. The next generation iPad would be faster powered by the multi-core ARM Cortex A9 chip which could possibly be christened A5. Also a patent filing revealed that the next iPad could be lighter as it could use a carbon fibre casing instead of the aluminum casing.