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Thinner, global iPad in the works?

iPads that can run on either CDMA and GSM networks are reportedly being developed.
iPads that can run on either CDMA and GSM networks are reportedly being developed.

Apple touts the iPhone 4 as the thinnest smart phone, but it can't say the same for its iPad being the thinnest tablet out there — yet. The company is reportedly working on a slimmer version for 2011, and one that would be able to run on any of the Big Four wireless carriers' network in the United States, as well as on other networks around the world.

A report Friday indicates that the next iPad will use Qualcomm's CDMA-GSM chip, which means for those who want to use the wireless tablet via cellular carriers, the iPad could run on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile's networks.

“Recent checks…suggest Apple is going to be ratcheting down production of the existing 3G iPad over the next two months in anticipation of ramping up a new World iPad that is powered by Qualcomm and will run on both GSM and CDMA based networks around the world,” writes Wedge Partners analyst Brian Blair, whose comments were cited by AllThingsD.

"We…understand the new iPad is thinner than the existing model and is essentially made from one piece of metal with no pins needed," his report says. "We understand it requires a new type of manufacturing process as a result, similar to the company’s unibody approach seen in MacBooks."

A use-it-on-any-network iPad would be a smart move by Apple, as Samung's Galaxy Tab, so far the best iPad competitor to emerge, is being offered by the Big Four in the U.S., as well as by other carriers around the world.

The Galaxy Tab, with a 7-inch screen, is smaller than the iPad, which has a 9.7-inch display. The 1.5-pound tablet is a half-inch thick, which seemed reasonable until newer tablets, like Tab — came out. It weighs about 13 ounces and is just a titch under a half-inch in depth.

A 7-inch iPad had been rumored to be in the works, but Steve Jobs recently put that rumor to rest, declaring such a size"meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size."

The current iPad has two versions, one that's Wi-Fi only, and another with Wi-Fi and 3G. Initially, the 3G version worked only on AT&T's network. But last month, Verizon added the iPad to its lineup. However, for it to work on Verizon's network, customers need to use it in conjunction with Verizon's MiFi wireless device, which costs $30 a month. That's one more thing to schlep around, and a detraction from the portability of the device, no matter what its weight.