Apple Inc's next iPad tablet will start shipping as early as the end of February from electronics maker Foxconn Electronics' factories in China, DigiTimes reported on Tuesday.

The report, citing unnamed sources from Taiwan-based components makers, said Apple originally planned to start mass production of the new device, known as iPad 2, in January.

Those plans were postponed since the device's firmware, or set of software instructions that are programed into the device's hardware, was still being tested, according to the report.

The iPad 2 will mainly be supplied by plants in Shenzhen belonging to Foxconn, the parent company of Hon Hai, DigiTimes reported. An initial shipment of 400,000 to 600,000 units are expected.

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple sold 4.19 million iPads in the fiscal fourth quarter. That was lower than markets expected, but analysts expect sales to ramp up this holiday season as Apple resolves supply glitches.