Japanese website Macotakara reported on Tuesday that the unveiling of a so-called "iPad 3" along with iOS 5.1 will occur in February, citing both an Asian supplier and a source in the U.S. Despite a rumored early February introduction, the report claims that the new iPad would still launch in early March, much like the iPad 2 in 2011.
Last year, the iPad 2 was introduced in a media event held on March 2, and the device went on sale just 9 days later on March 11. But Tuesday's rumor would suggest that Apple could have a longer wait time in between the unveiling of a third-generation iPad and its sale date.
That delay would be at least in part because Chinese factories will be shut down to celebrate that country's New Year. This year's festival is earlier than usual, and runs from Jan. 23 through 28.
Recent reports have suggested that Foxconn and Pegatron will begin shipping the first "iPad 3" units in early March. Rumors leading up to the anticipated iPad unveiling have generally pointed toward a March launch of the device, but a monthlong wait time between the unveiling and sale of a new iPad would be a change from Apple's approach in 2011.
Rumors have generally agreed that the next iPad will support a new high-resolution, Apple-branded "Retina Display" akin to the screens currently found on the iPhone and iPod touch. There have also been claims that Apple will continue to sell the current-generation iPad 2 at a reduced price.
Macotakara has a mixed track record with Apple rumors in the past, accurately reporting that Apple would introduce its second-gen iPad in March and push out the release of the fifth-generation iPhone until much later in the year, but also incorrectly claiming that Apple would release new MacBook Airs with high-speed 400MBps flash memory and that a fifth-generation iPhone would feature an aluminum back.
An anticipated iPad 3 event is not to be confused with a confirmed education-related event that Apple is set to hold on Thursday in New York City. That media briefing is expected to relate to digital publishing and e-books, and will not showcase any new hardware.