iPad 2 Rumors Abound



Rumors that the iPad 2 and iPhone 5 would be delayed had ricocheted around the Web before being batted down by a Reuters report citing unnamed sources. All by about noon today. The dueling reports this morning highlight the frenzied swirl of speculation that attends Apple product releases.

This online cottage industry of conjecture about when a new gadget will hit stores or what its features will be has in itself helped to perpetuate the cult status of the Apple brand -- as well as making it a mass-market seller. Who needs to spend on marketing and PR when the blogosphere will supply all the world-of-mouth a company could hope for?

In this case, though, it appears Apple may have found the rumor-mongering went beyond its own comfort zone. A Taiwanese brokerage firm reported that "production bottlenecks" would push back the expected release of the new version of the Apple tablet from April to June.

With a number of Android 3.0 tablets being launched in May and June, the Yuanta Securities report noted "the delay in iPad 2 shipment may give the Android camp a brief window of opportunity."

On the heels of those reports came a Reuters story refuting them. Citing "a person familiar with the matter," it said the iPad 2 launch was on schedule. Barron's writer Tiernan Ray also shot down the rumor, writing that "sources close to Apple" say there's nothing to the Yuanta report.

On top of all that, All Things Digital's Kara Swisher revealed Apple has a March 2 event planned, at which she speculates the company will unveil its upgraded iPad. Got all that? Just another day in the life of the Apple media circus.

But given the onslaught of new competitors in the tablet space, it would be surprising if Apple pushed back releasing the iPad 2 for any reason. With nearly 15 million iPad sold to date, the company virtually owns the category at this point. But with new tablets from Google, Samsung, Motorola and Research in Motion just introduced or on the way, this isn't the time for Apple to take a victory lap.

The company also wouldn't want to show any sign of slipping in the wake of CEO Steve Jobs recently taking a second leave of absence for medical reasons. His leave, of course, will inspire a new round of speculation--about whether he'll appear at the March 2 event. And will he wear his trademark black mock turtleneck? Before the end of today, there could be another three or four other Apple rumors zipping around the globe.

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