By the end of 2013, the fifth-generation iPad will almost certainly be available on store shelves. When they arrive there, however, remains an open question. One camp believes that an iPad announcement is imminent. Others believe that Apple’s next tablet won’t arrive until the fall.

Who’s right? Let’s look at the tape.

The latest iPad rumor comes from DigiTimes, which cites “sources with Taiwan-based supply chain makers.” According to their report, Apple will begin production on the fifth iPad in July or August. This would suggest that the next iPad won’t be available to users until September or October.

Meanwhile, iMore’s Rene Richie remains convinced that an April iPad event could still happen. Of course, with each passing day, the likelihood of this diminishes.

Adding to the confusion is whether Apple will launch a new iPad alongside the second-generation iPad mini, or announce them at separate events.

Personally, I don’t think that we’ll see anything new from Apple until the Worldwide Developers Conference in June. Of course, like others, I could ultimately be proven wrong.

Few disagree on what the next iPad will ultimately look like. For inspiration, Apple is said to have looked at the iPad mini. In other words, the fifth-generation iPad should be thinner and lighter than its predecessor, and include an iPad mini-like slim bezel design.

As usual, stay tuned.

In the meantime, see: We Will Probably Still See iOS 7 In June, But The Next iPhone Is Another Story, and Even As It Celebrates Its Third Birthday, The iPad Is Still Doomed Say The Skeptics.

Photo: iPad 5 concept, Martin Hejek