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Forget the iPad 2, the iPad 3 is close behind

Those excited by the prospect of the iPad 2 rolling out within a few months may very well have convulsions if this latest rumor is true: an iPad 3 debuting in the fall.

That's right, not one, but two iPads within maybe six months of each hitting the market.

Daring Fireball's John Gruber wrote a very small paragraph about the new HP TouchPad and it's "great" new software but a little slip caught the eye of industry watchers, causing a minor firestorm of speculation:

Summer feels like a long time away. If my theory is right, they’re not only going to be months behind the iPad 2, but if they slip until late summer, they might bump up against the release of the iPad 3. And not only did they announce this with a distant ship date, they did it with no word on pricing.

Whoa, there. 

Did he just say what I think he said? Oh yeah, he did.

Gruber clarified his casually dropped comment to TechCrunch, calling it an "actual guess" but continues to insist an "iPad 3 could hit in September alongside new iPods." Furthermore, "But I’m certain that Apple sees the potential and the high stakes. They’re not going to leave any gas in the tank pushing the iPad hardware specs forward as fast as they can."

Not to be outdone, TechCrunch's MG Siegler says he's not making a guess at all, he knows this is part of Apple's master plan.

A few days ago, we heard from a very good source that Apple was assembling the pieces for a “big fall surprise”. While intriguing, that could obviously mean anything. But the “surprise” part clearly means it’s something beyond the regular iPod/iTunes (and perhaps MacBook Air) refreshes that Apple does in the fall. Still, that leaves a lot of room for guesses. An actual Apple television? iTunes in the cloud? A touchscreen iMac? Who knows? Well, until today. We’ve now heard that this “fall surprise” is related to this would-be iPad 3. We don’t have any more concrete information beyond that. But, as of right now, the plan is apparently to release one iteration of the iPad in the next few weeks. And then blow the doors open with another new version in the fall.

So there you go, another iPad that may one-up both versions with at least an iPhone 4-like retina display, but that's about the extent of Siegler's details.

Mind you, Apple has yet to publicly declare the existence of an iPad 2, but c'mon, unless you've been waiting for confirmation via the Wall Street Journal, then you know it's out there. The real question now is, what's going to be the big difference between the iPad 2 and the iPad 3? If you've held out this long for the iPad 2, are you willing to hold out a little bit longer for the iPad 3 if it's a significant enough jump?

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Follow Technolog's Facebook page and on Twitter, Athima Chansanchai, who is still holding out for the next iPad. Or now, the iPad 3.