Rumor Has It: Apple’s Tablet Release Plans Delayed Due to Glass

The Apple (s aapl) tablet, which over the holidays has garnered more buzz despite still being a rumor, has already been delayed. Don’t worry, though — if the reports are correct, the delay has already been factored into the rumored January product announcement, so we shouldn’t have to wait any longer for the big reveal.

DigiTimes is the source for a parts-related rumor about the upcoming device. Foxconn subsidiary Innolux, which specializes in panel manufacture, will be the exclusive initial touch panel supplier for the upcoming tablet, not Wintek as was once believed, the hardware news site reports. Wintek will still be considered as a later, secondary supplier, sources say.

The glass that protects the touch-sensitive surface needed to be stronger than Apple initially expected, and so the tablet was reportedly delayed to the first quarter of 2010. No word on when plans initially called for it to be released. The glass will supposedly be strengthened by a process developed by another Foxconn subsidiary, called G-Tech Optoelectronics. Sounds like Apple is really taking the time to make sure the product it eventually does release is heads and tails above the competition in terms of build quality.

Based on the information it received, DigiTimes suggested a probably time line for the announcement and subsequent consumer release of Apple’s tablet:

Apple is expected to announce the tablet PC in January of 2010 with mass shipments to start in March or April, based on analysis of the shipping schedules of Apple’s upstream component partners.

Note also that according to the information received by DigiTimes, the tablet will sport a 10-inch screen, instead of the 7-inch one that’s recently been making the rounds. It’s possible that Apple will offer up two different sizes of the tablet, but I don’t think it’ll do so until it sees how strong demand is for the new device.