Apple's first iPad tablet launched in the U.S. on April 3, 2010., while the iPad 2 came out less than a year later on March 11, 2011. It's a small sample size, to be sure, but following the 11-month release cycle, we wouldn't be surprised to see the iPad 3 come out in February, though the latest chatter has Apple's third generation tablet PC making its debut in March.
That's the word from Bloomberg anyway, which is basing its iPad 3 release prediction based on information obtained from "three people familiar with the product." According to Bloomberg and its sources, Apple's manufacturing partners in Asia have ramped up production in recent weeks and will have their assembly lines working at full tilt by February.
Since we can reasonably surmise the iPad 3 is nearing release, much more interesting is what kind of hardware it will bring to the tablet show, especially as the competition is much more fierce than it was a year ago. Bloomberg says the iPad 3 will rock a quad-core processor of some sort, an upgrade that should help with multitasking and game performance. There's also been talk of a high definition screen, and it might even sport a 4G LTE radio.
In terms of market share, Apple's iPad line leads the way, but we're starting to see more compelling Android devices, such as the high end Transformer Prime by Asus, along with affordable tablets like the Kindle Fire ($199) from Amazon and Nook Tablet ($249) from Barnes & Noble.
Another interesting side story is the evolution of the iPad tablet without Steve Jobs offering his input. The iPad 3 will be the first major product launch from Apple following the untimely death of Jobs, and the second product launch with Tim Cook in charge (the iPhone 4S was the first).