An Apple staffer has stated that the iPad 2 (which is due to go official within hours) is merely a minor upgrade on the original tab, and that we should be more excited about the iPad 3, which will land later this year.

Talking to Apple bloggers the Cult of Mac, the source said: "For the iPad 2 don’t get your hopes up too high. That’s all I’m going to say. They’ve had a number of problems along the way, and the third-generation iPad is the one to make a song and a dance about."

The staffer stated that the iPad 2 would come with a new cloud-based MobileMe media storage hub, and have a slightly improved spec (more RAM and a Qualcomm dual-mode chip), along with a better speaker and dual camera options - but the same resolution as the original.

He said the cloud option may or may not allow fanboys to stick their non iTunes purchased digital media in the cloud, but the final decision from Cupertino wasn't clear.

The iPad 3 suggestion matches the statements by John Gruber of Daring Fireball and MG Siegler of Tech Crunch back in February. 

Gruber kicked off the speculation, when talking about the HP Touchpad, when he said: "Summer feels like a long time away. If my theory is right, they’re not only going to be months behind the iPad 2, but if they slip until late summer, they might bump up against the release of the iPad 3." 

Siegler's report on Tech Crunch stated that: "A few days ago, we heard from a very good source that Apple was assembling the pieces for a 'big fall surprise'.

"We’ve now heard that this 'fall surprise' is related to this would-be iPad 3. We don’t have any more concrete information beyond that. But, as of right now, the plan is apparently to release one iteration of the iPad in the next few weeks. And then blow the doors open with another new version in the fall."

iPad 3 to hit before Christmas then? A few weeks ago we would have said definitely not. But now, we're not so sure. With Android tabs really hitting their stride now, and the likes of the PlayBook and the Touchpad due to hit in 2011 too, Apple will want to stay ahead of the field.

Pocket-lint will be reporting live from the Apple iPad 2 event from 6pm UK time, so be sure to check back for updates.