Gruber: iPad 3 coming this fall?

We don't have an official announcement of the iPad 2 yet, but Daring Fireball's John Gruber is already speculating that the iPad 3 -- what he says will be a competitor to the just-announced HP TouchPad -- will be ready by fall.

"If my theory is right, they're [HP] 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 speculated on Wednesday.

He quickly clarified, after sparking a flurry of rumors, that despite Apple's predictability when it comes to hardware releases, it does sometimes pull out surprises -- think the iPod mini. Gruber thinks that Apple will move the iPad's production schedule to match that of the iPod, a September release primed to take advantage of holiday sales. What would this entail?

  • New hardware, the iPad 2, pretty soon. This would back up reports that the iPad 2 is already in production.

  • An announcement of iOS 5 around the same time, ready for the annual iPhone release.

  • The iPad 3 in September, which might actually be a tweaked version of the iPad 2, quite possibly with Retina Display.

AppleInsider reported on this as well, adding in a TechCrunch report saying that Apple has a surprise planned for the fall regarding the iPad 3.

What are your thoughts? Is Apple possibly moving to a fall schedule for the iPad?