Industry sources told Taiwanese industry publication Digitimes that Ibiden, Tripod Technology and TTM Technologies will serve as Apple's initial Printed Circuit Board suppliers for the as-yet-unannounced next-generation of the successful tablet device.
The three companies have reportedly "received certification from Apple," and will begin shipping small quantities of any-layer High Density Interconnect boards in December, according to the report's sources.
In February 2011, four more suppliers will be added as "shipments of the new iPads ramp up" for the tablet's expected first quarter 2011 launch, according to the report.
Reports of a Q1 2011 launch for the next-gen iPad line up with earlier Digitimes reports from other suppliers. In September, the publication claimed that Apple's touch panel and reinforced glass suppliers will begin shipments for the second generation iPad in early 2011.
In September, sources told AppleInsider that FaceTime-equipped next-gen iPads should be introduced no later than the first quarter of next year, ahead of Apple's traditional 12-month product cycle. With FaceTime already running on the iPhone, iPod touch and the Mac, the iPad is a likely candidate for the continued expansion of Apple's video chat service. Next year's iPad revision is rumored to add a forward-facing camera and a 5 megapixel rear camera.
Rumors of a smaller 7-inch iPad swirled this fall until Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs dispelled them during a quarterly earnings conference call. "The reason we [won't] make a 7-inch tablet isn't because we don't want to hit that price point, it's because we think the screen is too small to express the software," Jobs said in October.
Apple reportedly developed a 7-inch iPad alongside the original tablet device, but decided not to release it. Comments made by Jobs may support that rumor, as he claims Apple has done "extensive user testing on touch interfaces over many years."
"We really understand this stuff," Jobs said.