Apple looking for new iPad manufacturing partner

Reports from Taiwan suggest that Apple is sniffing around manufacturing plants in China looking for a new partner to build the next generation of the iPad.

Industry-snooping Taiwanese tech site DigiTimes reckons the Cupertino company is trying to minimise disruption to its plans to overthrow its many iPad usurpers after its current supplier Foxconn experienced a fatal explosion back in May, which left three dead and 15 injured.

Foxconn has also been plagued by a succession of PR disasters - including a rash of worker suicides - which don't sit well with Apple squeaky clean, wholesome image.

Although the DigiTimes report mentions a company called 'Petagron' several times, we're assuming they are talking about Pegatron, which is rumoured to already be in the frame for manufacturing the next generation iPhone 5. Quanta Computer which assembles laptops for just about every box builder you have ever heard of has also been mentioned in dispatches.

Although the report suggests that Apple is looking for a second manufacturer to ensure supply, Foxconn's besmirched reputation and rising costs forced by an ever-increasing wage bill could see the Chengdu-based company cut out of the loop altogether.

The iPad 3 has been pegged for fourth quarter 2011 launch, will probably be thinner and lighter, and may come with an HD-capable panel with a resolution approaching that of the iPhone 4's superb Retina Display.

A beefier dual (or even quad) core processor, improved graphics grunt and better cameras are also on the cards.

A rumoured carbon fibre chassis and NFC integration are less likely in our book.