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Insufficient display supply to drag iPad mini shipments

Posted: 29 Oct 2013 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:iPad mini? Retina display? A7? tablet?

According to the latest forecast from IHS, supplies of Apple's second-generation iPad mini are expected to fall short of demand in 4Q13 due to limited production of the tablet's new Retina display. Shipments of the new iPad mini with Retina Display will fall below four million units and potentially amount to less than three million units in Q4. This would represent as little as one-third of the 8.9 million unit volume of the first-generation iPad mini shipments during 4Q12, the first quarter when that product was sold, noted the market research firm.

Actual demand for the original mini was well above the 8.9 million figure, leaving Apple with a huge backlog of orders for the mini at the start of 2013. With demand for the new mini in Q4 expected to equal or exceed the nearly nine million units of its predecessor model, supply and demand will be severely out of balance.

"Apple is being rather vague about the exact availability date of the new iPad mini with Retina Display, simply stating that the product would ship later in November," noted Rhoda Alexander, director of tablet research at IHS. "The company has good reason to be coy about the exact release date, given that supply of the new mini is going to be ridiculously tight in Q4. The heart of the problem is supply constraints on the new Retina panel."

Production is still ramping up on the 7.9in Retina panel with low yield rates limiting production, according to IHS display research. With most of the production occurring late in the quarter and the challenges inherent in the new system design, iPad manufacturing is expected to lag well behind panel production in Q4.

Supply will improve substantially in 1Q14, but with Chinese New Year falling at the end of January, supply difficulties on the new mini could linger into February or March of 2014.

"With supply of the new Retina mini estimated to come in at one-third or less of Apple's mini unit shipments in 4Q12, it's curious that Apple elected to include the product at the same time as the iPad Air," Alexander said. "The iPad Air is an impressive product in its own right. Faster, lighter and substantially thinner than earlier generations, the iPad Air provides a long-awaited design refresh of the 9.7in iPad. Apple could have split the product launches, as they did in 2012, and introduced the mini in 1Q14."

The iPad Air incorporates the design elegance of the original mini, delivering a device that is 0.18 kg lighter and 20 per cent thinner than its predecessor. Apple also improved connectivity, incorporating MIMO inside to boost WiFi performance, A7 processor chip and expanded LTE bands to support more carriers around the globe.

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