Rumor: iPad 2 Resolution Will be 2048 x 1536

The next iteration of the iPad will support a vastly higher resolution of 2048 x 1536, twice the current device’s 1024 x 768 capabilities, according to Taiwan-based DigiTimes. The electronics-industry newspaper reported that an upstream component maker in Apple’s supply chain leaked the story.

Those same sources also claimed that Apple would be able to make as many as 40 million iPads in calendar 2011. Supply has been one of the key limiting factors in sales of the device since its introduction in April, and on Tuesday Apple executives said they could have sold more than the 7.33 million devices the company moved during the December quarter if they’d had the supply.

Most analysts estimate that Apple will move 30+ million iPads in 2011, and Apple COO Tim Cook said during Tuesday’s call with financial analysts that Apple had been putting enormous resources into improving supply of both the iPad and iPhone 4. The ability to potentially produce 40 million iPads — if DigiTimes’s sources know what they’re talking about — would mean that Apple would be better able to capitalize on just about every sales opportunity the company gets.

The last tidbit reported by the newspapers is that Apple is already working to tweak iBooks to take advantage of iPad 2’s higher resolution.

If this report is grounded in reality, Apple would be stretching its lead over the competition by leaps, bounds, and giant steps to the moon. The vast majority of all those still-not-yet-shippig Android devices shown at CES earlier in January have resolutions lower than the current iPad’s in form factors that are smaller.

We did note a couple that were 1240 x 768 (or close to that), but nothing near the ballpark of 2048 x 1536. In addition, Android OS isn’t currently designed to handle such large resolutions, though that could be addressed by Google or perhaps an enterprising manufacturer or two.

That is, however, the rub: DigiTimes has a long history of publishing leaks from Apple’s component manufacturers and other vendors in Apple’s supply chain, and the newspaper has been the source of many rumors for uannaounced Apple products over the years. While many of the publication’s stories haven’t borne out, its accuracy in the last two years has increased markedly, including detials of the iPhone 4 and the iPad before it was announced by Apple.

This story, however, has a couple of hallmarks that warrant pointing out. The rumor came from an upstream component manufacturer of some sort. The leak appears to center around a component, and not around some sort of working iPad 2 model. Just because Apple is looking at components that support the above-mentioned resolution doesn’t mean that it will be used in the final shipping product.

Even if it is used in the final product, there’s no particular reason that has to mean that the iPad will take full advantage of said component - we don’t even know which component it is. It could be a dedicated video chip set, but it could just as well be a maker of some kind of touch-screen technology, or maybe a glass maker. We don’t know, and the bottom line is that this rumor should be taken with a large bag of salt on hand, just in case you need quick access to a grain or three.