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Screen shortages push the iPad 3 to 2012

Apple's iPad 3 tablet looks like missing its rumoured 2011 launch window, getting pushed back to next year thanks to a lack of high-resolution display panels in the required size.

The iPad 3 is rumoured to be getting a 'retina' makeover, taking a leaf from the impressive iPhone 4 and upping the resolution to a smooth 2048x1536 while retaining the 9.7-inch size of its predecessors. If true, it would make the iPad 3 the most visually stunning tablet on the market by far, and help Apple maintain its market share in the face of hordes of Android tablets crowding the market.

It's a rumour which was first attributed to the iPad 2, and then when that launched without a high-resolution display moved to the next-gen product. While Apple hasn't said anything official on the matter, it's being treated as a done deal - and could be leading to severe delays in the product's launch.

The iPad 3 was expected to launch around September, with upstream manufacturers receiving orders for several million units in Q3 and Q4. Those orders are now reportedly cancelled, replaced with a 2012 launch date.

That's the story told to industry rumour-monger DigiTimes, which quotes unnamed sources in the supply chain as finding the orders missing from their systems with little to no explanation from Apple itself. The finger, however, firmly points to the high-res display, which manufacturers are struggling to produce in the required quantities at a sensible price point.

The delay could also give Apple a chance to use its new 28nm A6 processor in the next-generation tablet, which is currently being sampled by TSMC after the company's rather public falling-out with Samsung, the manufacturer of its original A4 and A5 processors. While little is known regarding the A6's performance, it is believed to be a quad-core part and would help drive the new high-resolution display to its maximum effect.

Apple, you may be surprised to hear, has not responded to our request for comment on the rumoured delay.