Here’s an interesting bit of speculation from Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair, whose recent Qualcomm channel checks may reveal something about Apple’s next-generation iPad. According to Blair, Apple is developing a “World iPad” based on one of Qualcomm’s multimode CDMA-GSM chips.
“Recent checks…suggest Apple is going to be ratcheting down production of the existing 3G iPad over the next two months in anticipation of ramping up a new World iPad that is powered by Qualcomm and will run on both GSM and CDMA based networks around the world,” Blair writes. “Given our recent checks that suggest Apple is preparing to build approximately 48 million iPads in calendar 2011.”
Incidentally, Blair also says his checks suggest these next-generation iPads will include at least a front-facing camera and some design adjustments. “We…understand the new iPad is thinner than the existing model and is essentially made from one piece of metal with no pins needed,” he says. “We understand it requires a new type of manufacturing process as a result, similar to the company’s unibody approach seen in MacBooks.”
Such enhancements make perfect sense, right? As one longtime Apple observer told me, “I’d be stunned if it were otherwise.” The real mystery here is timing, he added, and–if Blair’s right about a dual-mode iPad–what role it would play in the company’s new relationship with Verizon, since a CDMA-GSM iPad would obviate the need for the carrier to bundle Wi-Fi-only iPads with its MiFi hotspot devices, as it currently does.