It's unlikely the rumored iPad 2 tablet will have a screen resolution of 2,048x1,536 pixels - four times that of the current 1,024x768 iPad. But future iPads might, according to research firm IDC.

Citing sources from component manufacturers, Taiwanese trade publication Digitimes reported Thursday that Apple will boost the iPad 2's resolution to "widen the company's technology gap with its competitors." Apple will begin mass production of the iPad 2 by the end of February, the report stated.

But IDC research manager Tom Mainelli believes the 2048 by 1536 prediction is premature.

"I think the Digitimes story probably got the resolution right, but the iPad version wrong," Mainelli told PCWorld via email. "Our sources say Apple has requested that manufacturers begin work on displays with that resolution for the iPad 3."

"I don't believe anybody is ready to produce that resolution in volumes at this point. And Apple is going to require huge volumes for the iPad 2," he added.

Media tablet shipments will grow from about 17 million units in 2010 to 44.6 million units in 2011, IDC forecasts. Apple iPads made up 90 percent of the tablet volume in Q3 2010.

"We expect Apple to continue to own the lion's share of that market in 2011," Mainelli wrote.

Details on Apple's next-generation tablet, which may ship as early as April, continue to trickle out from numerous sources. An AppleInsider story earlier this week said the iPad 2 will feature a dual-core graphics chip capable of playing 1080p HD video, as well as a high-resolution Retina display. The new iPad is also expected to include dual (front and rear) cameras.