Is DigiTimes trying to kill the iPad 2’s Christmas sales?

No, but the steady flow of rumors about a new iPad just around the corner aren’t helping

Source: Digitimes

Remember what happened to iPhone 4 sales last summer? They hit a wall in mid-July, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, when “speculation” that Apple was about to release a new iPhone, “hit extreme highs.”

Now we’re in the middle of what’s shaping up as Apple’s (AAPL) biggest holiday season ever, and the same thing may be happening to the iPad 2.

On Monday — with 13 shopping days until Christmas — Taipai-based DigiTimes reported that Asian component makers have started supplying Apple with parts for a new iPad that “sources” say will go into production in January for release by March or April.

The brief item was quickly picked up by more than a dozen Western reporters, and by Monday morning it was among the top stories on the closely-watched Techmeme news aggregator.

This is not the first time DigiTimes’ reporters have written about the iPad 2’s successor. In fact, a search of DigiTimes’ archives for what it calls the iPad 3 turns up more than 50 pieces, including 10 in July alone.

The paper’s track record is, to put it kindly, mixed. In December 2010, it reported that Apple had ordered enough touch-panel screens to build 65 million iPads in 2011 — a number that probably overshot the mark by 25 million units.

Analysts have been scaling back their iPad 2 sales estimates for the December quarter lately, in part because of the early success of Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire, and in part because of the sales-killing effect of reports like DigiTimes’. We’ve seen estimates as high as 17 million, but more recent analysts’ notes put the number closer to 13.5 million.

As of Sept. 24, Apple had sold 25 million in calendar 2011, and a total of 38.5 million since April 2010.

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