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According to analysts in Hong Kong, Apple has reportedly dropped its iPad supply orders for the fourth-quarter by as much as 25%. It's a reduction so vast that analysts at JPMorgan Chase & Co. have apparently never see before, and it's going to have a huge impact on Apple's component vendors in the Far East.

A number of vendors in Apple's supply chain have indicated that the Cupertino company has made some huge cuts in the past two weeks — slashing its iPad production numbers by a quarter. It's bad news for companies like Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision Industry), and could mean a drop from 17 million units to just 13 million units in the fourth-quarter.

Despite the cuts, however, JPMorgan's U.S. analyst Mark Moskowitz, who covers all things Apple, does not expect to lower his previous projection of 10.9 million to 12.9 million iPad shipments during the third and fourth quarters.

So why is Apple reducing its iPad supply? Well, according to a Bloomberg report, there could be a number of reasons:

Reduced orders from Apple to iPad suppliers could reflect both weakening demand in Europe due to economic conditions there as well as a strategy by Apple, the world's biggest company by market value, to operate with reduced inventory, Wanli Wang, a Taipei-based industry analyst at RBS Asia Ltd., said today.

Claims of "weakening demand" are questionable, however, with Apple confirming that it continues to sell every single iPad it receives. Another reason for the reduction could, of course, be related to Apple's third-generation iPad, currently dubbed the iPad 3.

Although speculation has seemingly gone quiet in recent weeks, there were many reports that claimed Apple would launch the iPad 3 before the end of the year, introducing the A6 processor and a long-awaited Retina display. More recent reports, however, say that although Apple has finalized its iPad 3 supplier list, it will not begin production of the device until October.

It's worth remembering, of course, that Apple has not confirmed this production cut, and neither Apple or Foxconn have responded to requests for comment.

Do you think it's possible Apple has reduced its iPad supply while the device is still incredibly popular?

[via The Next Web]