iPad 3 Coming in First Quarter, iPad 4 to Follow in Fourth: New year, same ol’ rumors of multiple iPad releases in a 12-month window. At the dawn of 2011, the big brouhaha was that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) was planning to release a second-generation iPad in March that was an incremental upgrade over the original, then a third-generation device with a beefed up processor and super high-resolution screen in the fall. Apple did release the slightly upgraded iPad 2 in March 2011, but that was it. A Friday Digitimes report repeated this song and dance for 2012. Citing sources from Apple’s Taiwanese component supply chain, the report claims that Apple will roll out the iPad 3 in March with a Retinar Display, the same high-quality screen used in current iPhones. This model will also have improved battery life, but that’s it for upgrades. The company then will deliver the iPad 4 in October with a host of “killer applications” meant to combat the rumored Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) tablet due out at the same time. The current model, the iPad 2, will continue to stay on shelves as a budget model, priced around $200 to compete with Amazon‘s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire. This rumor should be taken with an entire shaker of salt as Apple has demonstrated that it’s in no rush to split the iPad market with too many models. That said, do expect Apple to release a new iPad near the end of the first quarter, much as it did last year. The company is nothing if not reliable in its release cycle.
Apple Opening Store-In-Store Outlets at Target: A Friday report at Apple Insider hints that Apple will be strengthening its partnership with big-box chain Target (NYSE:TGT) in 2012. A source familiar with Apple’s plans said the company will open branded micro-stores inside 25 larger Target stores this year. The idea is to serve markets that can’t support a full-scale Apple Store. These stores-within-stores likely will operate similarly as the Apple Shop areas in 600 Best Buy (NYSE:BBY) locations in the U.S.
China Unicom Giving Away iPhone 4S on Contract: As announced Tuesday, the iPhone 4S finally is coming to China and China Unicom (NYSE:CHU) is pushing the device hard in an effort to bulk up its subscribership. How aggressive is the telecom pushing? The company announced on its website that it will be giving away 16GB iPhone 4S models with two-year contracts. The promotion is impressive compared to those offered by AT&T (NYSE:T) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) when the iPhone 4S released in the U.S. this past October. Those companies offered the previous model, the iPhone 4, for free on contract, but the 16GB iPhone 4S still ran for $199 with a new contract.
As of this writing, Anthony John Agnello did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned stocks. Follow him on Twitter at @ajohnagnello and become a fan of InvestorPlace on Facebook. For more from the company, check out our previous Apple Rumors stories.