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iPad 3 Unveiling in Early February, Along with iOS 5.1?

As the release date approaches fast, the rumour mill surrounding the next generation iPad is spinning madly. While analysts have been busy trying to place their bets on the specifications of Apple's iPad 3, the launch date itself is the latest hot topic for discussion.

One fresh piece of information on this matter has been offered by the Japanese website Makotakara, who are suggesting that the next generation iPad will be introduced to the market even earlier than expected.

"According to Asian supplier and a source in United States, Apple seems to prepare to hold Special Event in early February. Because Chinese factory will be in holiday of New Year, then new product is considered to be released in early March," Makotakara writes.

This more or less aligns with a previous report that the iPad 3 release may coincide with Steve Jobs' birthday on February 24th, in honour of the iconic former Apple CEO. The gap between an announcement and a new product's availability is normally a few weeks.

Most of the industry observers agree that Apple is keeping to a tight release schedule, in light of the increasing competition and rate of technological advance. While the first iPad was introduced in January 2010 and the second generation iPad hit the market in March, anytime in this timeframe will allow Apple to respect the yearly schedule.

Meanwhile, MacRumors claims that the iPad 3 launch event could well include the release of iOS 5.1, which is thought to be in the pipeline for around then.