The iPad 2 may be delayed until June due to production issues. At least, that's what one Taiwanese brokerage firm is claiming.
In a research note released today, Yuanta Securities analyst Vincent Chen said that manufacturer Hon Hai has run into issues with the production process in light of the tablet's new design and is working on a fix.
"Our supply chain checks suggest that iPad 2 shipments will be delayed from April to June (time to market), owing to production bottlenecks at Hon Hai after Apple made design changes before Chinese New Year," Chen said in the note sent to CNET and other publications. Chinese New Year began February 3. (Editors' note: Not long after this story was posted, AllThingsD reported that, according to multiple sources, Apple plans to host a press event March 2 to introduce the iPad 2.)
Makers of components for the iPad 2 have "pretty much complied with new changes in the design by now," said Chen, but Hon Hai has encountered challenges with the new production process.
With the delay, Chen said, iPad 2 shipments during the second quarter will be limited. That could give the growing lineup of Android tablets a brief opportunity to grab more customers. However, the risk to Apple will still be on the downside as the analyst believes that Apple fans will be patient enough to wait for the new iPad rather than switch to Android.
For 2011, Chen is forecasting iPad shipments of 30.6 million, though with the two-month delay, that number could drop to as low as 23 million.
One possible kink in Chen's prediction: several retailers have already been running low on the current iPad, with a few vendors out of stock completely on certain models, according to the 9to5Mac enthusiast site. Such short supply is typically seen as a sign of an impending new release from Apple.
Ironically, the current iPad was the target of similar rumors almost a year ago when an analyst with Canaccord Adams claimed that production problems would push out the tablet's debut by a month to late April. At the time, Apple was saying it would launch the iPad to consumers in late March and missed that timeframe only by nose, releasing the device in the U.S. on April 3. The global debut of the tablet was delayed by a month as a result of higher-than-expected demand in the U.S.
Though Apple has yet to reveal what customers can expect from an iPad 2, several reports assert the new tablet will offer a faster processor, thinner case, and built-in cameras both on the front and back, among other features. A few initial reports also claimed the iPad 2 would feature a higher-resolution Retina display, but some analysts now say the tablet will likely offer the same resolution as the current model.
Apple told CNET the company would not comment on rumor.
Updates at 9:50 a.m. and 10:52 a.m. PT: First, to include information directly from analyst Vincent Chen, and second, to make note of a report saying Apple plans to unveil the iPad 2 next week.