At least three major retailers have suddenly slashed prices on iPads, and if history means anything, we could see a refreshed model soon and it would be released much earlier than expected.

In February, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) released the 128-gigabyte iPad, but it didn’t have anything new on it except extra storage space.

Apple ipad

Philip Elmer-DeWitt of Fortune was the first to point out the price cuts this morning. IPad prices have been slashed at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT), Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE:BBY) and MacMall by about 30 percent. What’s especially interesting about the sudden price cut is the fact that it’s been only about half way through Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s product cycle.

If the price cuts mean we’re about to see a refreshed iPad, then it’s only been 163 days since the introduction of the iPad Mini and the last update to the 10-inch iPad. Previous iPad product cycles have averaged around 311 days.

As Fortune points out, MacRumors’ Buyer’s Guide typically tells buyers interested in Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) when it’s a good time to purchase a product from the company. Currently it still recommends that users buy the iPad Mini right now because it has just been updated.

Of course there’s been a lot of speculation lately about what Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has been up to, including talk of an iWatch and an iTV to low-cost iPhones. The company is also dealing with investors’ concerns about weak iPhone demand and one Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) executive’s view that 10-inch tablets like the larger iPad have no future.

So we’ll just have to wait and see if Apple does refresh indeed the tablet a full six months early or if it will be releasing something else entirely unpredictable that could be a replacement for the iPad. Or if demand for the iPad is just so weak that retailers need to cut prices in order to get rid of them.