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iPad 3 will be announced in first week of March

Latest street news suggests unveiling will take place in San Francisco

Mark the date in your diary: Thursday 9 February was the day the trickle of iPad 3 rumours officially turned into a flood.

The latest we’re hearing is that Apple will announce the third-generation iPad in the first week of March. This comes from AllThingsD’s John Paczkowski, who wrote today that sources were telling him that the announcement was likely to take place in San Francisco.

The location will probably be the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, said Paczkowski, and the iPad 3 itself is likely to be on sale around a week later.

This goes against an interesting theory put forward by The Verge earlier this week – that Apple would announce the iPad 3 on Wednesday 29 February (Apple typically announces new iPads on a Wednesday) and it would go on sale Friday 9 March (previous iPads have hit the shelves on a Friday). So, perhaps it could be a Wednesday 7 February announcement instead?

Meanwhile, the notoriously unreliable Macotakara blog has published a picture of what it claims is an LCD panel manufactured by Sharp for the iPad 3.

Images of the purported back cover for the iPad 3 also emerged this week, while another report casts doubt on theories that the third-gen iPad will have a quad-core processor.

However, we think that iOS 5.1 could launch on 9 March, possibly along side the iPad 3.