With few exceptions, the best way to predict what Apple is going to do is to look at what they’ve already done, which is why it’s best to take this rumor reported by Apple Insider with a grain of salt: they claim a FaceTime-equipped iPad will be coming in time for the holidays.
Apple Insider, on their part, realize that that their source — “a person with proven knowledge of Apple’s future product plans” — is giving them insider intel that defies Apple’s history of yearly generational cycles in their iPod and iOS line-up, but claim nonetheless that “there [is] an ambitious push inside Apple to verify the refresh for a possible launch ahead of this year’s holiday shopping season,” and that the testing of the FaceTime-equipped iPad has already reached the advanced testing stage.
That the next iPad will boast at least a forward facing camera for FaceTime calling is a given… but releasing it less than a year after the first iPad seems like an invitation for customer backlash.
Perhaps recognizing this, Apple Insider’s report ends up contradicting itself later, on, saying that the FaceTime-equipped iPad will arrive “no later” than the first quarter of 2011. Given that the first quarter ends in March, that’s close enough to a year after the iPad’s debut that it seems unlikely that Apple will meaningfully break their historic product cycle for a second-gen iPad, no matter how much they want FaceTime to be the de facto standard for video calling..