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Could DigiTimes rumors affect holiday iPad 2 sales?

Do rumors about Apple products affect your buying habits? Tim Cook thinks so, and so do analysts. A report from Philip Elmer DeWitt of Fortune looks closely at this issue and asks whether the recent iPad 3 rumors from Digitimes will hurt Apple's quarterly iPad 2 sales.

He points to remarks Tim Cook made during Apple's fourth quarter earnings conference call. Specifically, Cook blamed Apple's lower-than-expected Q3 iPhone 4 sales on speculation about the iPhone 4S. Customers, Cook explained, waited to get the iPhone 4S instead of the iPhone 4 because they were aware of its imminent launch.

Now that the iPhone 4S is available, rumors about the iPad 3 are spreading, and the iPad 2 is supposedly feeling the effect. In the past month, Digitimes published several rumors claiming Apple is shifting production from the iPad 2 to the iPad 3. DeWitt cites analysts who are lowering their quarterly iPad 2 sales estimates partially because of sales-busting rumors coming out of Digitimes.

It may seem intuitive to seasoned Apple veterans that the company plans to launch the iPad 3 this spring. The average customer, though, may not be aware of Apple's release schedule and could be influenced when these rumors make it past Digitimes and into bigger publications.

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