ipad in useApple is expected to unveil the iPad 2 within the next few weeks, but the company may also be gearing up to introduce another model in the fall, according to TechCrunch’s MG Siegler.

A source tells Siegler that Apple is planning a “big fall surprise”, which may in fact be an iPad 3. But Apple’s most eloquent fan John Gruber, who many thought confirmed a fall iPad release with an offhand comment, also considers the possibility that the iPad 3 may just be some sort of slight upgrade to the iPad 2 later this year.

The conflicting reports (it should be noted Gruber is only guessing) point to two separate iPad releases this year, which isn’t a stretch considering Apple will be facing some major tablet competition from the likes of Motorola, RIM and now HP.

Gruber’s scenario sounds more plausible to me. Apple needs to wow the tech community with its iPad 2 announcement soon, but it wouldn’t make much sense for the company to release an entirely new model so quickly. An upgraded iPad 2 — perhaps with more memory, storage, and other features to make it competitive against other tablets for the holiday season — falls more in line with Apple’s typical product cycle. But don’t be surprised if that iPad 2 upgrade still ends up being called the iPad 3.

Both Gruber and Siegler predict that we may finally see a high-resolution screen with the fall iPad release, which would explain why it was so heavily rumored for the iPad 2. The iPad 2 is reportedly in production now using the same 1024 by 768 pixel resolution display as the original iPad.

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