Analyst Suggests iPad 3 Already Headed for Production

Could we get a new tablet in March 2012?

With the iPhone 4S hitting shelves today, the tech world is wasting no time in drumming up excitement for the next, highly anticipated Apple product: the still-unannounced iPad 3. There’s still no solid information on the third generation of the popular tablet, but that’s not keeping the blogosphere from throwing some rumors around.

According to Susquehanna Financial analyst Jeff Fidacaro, who spoke with AllThingsD, the iPad 3 is already headed into production. Fidacaro’s previous estimates had Apple building between 11 and 13 million iPads in the fourth quarter. But after studying the supply chain, he raised his estimate to between 12 and 14 million iPads. Part of that increase, he says, is due to early builds of the iPad 3.

“Since our last month supply chain checks we are now seeing 600,000 to one million iPad 3 builds showing up on the plan for the fourth quarter of calendar 2011,” he told AllThingsD. “Our previous estimate did not include any iPad 3s.”

If Fidacaro is right, we could be seeing an iPad 3 launch in early 2012, possibly March—exactly one year after the release of the iPad 2. Which means that it’s time to forget about your brand-new iPhone 4S and start counting down to the spring.