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Apple is entering a new phase for the iPad … competition. On the heals of HP announcing the HP Touchpad today, Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber speculated that Apple could release an iPad 3 about the same time as HP releases the HP Touchpad:

"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."

Gruber is known for blogging correct Apple speculation and news. Time will tell if he is correct here.

In another blog post this evening Gruber added more tantalizing details to his predictions:

"So, here’s my guess at Apple’s iPad plans for 2011: An iPad 2, fairly soon. Say, a March announcement, shipping in the first week of April. Faster, more RAM, maybe more storage, thinner and lighter, a front-facing camera. Running iOS 4.3. iOS 5, announced at a developer event in March, shipping in June. iPad 3, shipping in September, announced at the annual iPod event. Running iOS 5.1, same as the next=generation iPod Touch."

Read more on Guber’s blog here