The lower-priced iPad mini could be in short supply when it starts shipping on November 2. Expected high demand for the tablet, coupled with shortages on the panel supply chain, might lead to not enough iPad Minis to satisfy market demand, according to a research note from Richard Shim, a senior analyst for NPD DisplaySearch, a market research firm specializing in displays.
Shim wrote: "As is typical, we expect the iPads to be supply constrained initially, especially the iPad mini with its $329 price. The new low price point is expected to appeal to a wider audience and drive up demand. However, panel supply chain indications point to an even more than typical tightness in the market for the iPad Mini."
The $329 iPad mini comes with a 7.9-inch display with a resolution of 1024 pixels by 768 pixels, a dual core A5 processor, and dual cameras.
According to Shim, Apple is expanding its supplier base with new partners for the iPad mini in addition to LG Display, who supplies panels to Foxconn for the finished product. LG shipped 300,000 panels in September, and plans to ship 1 million in October, 2.5 million in November, and 3 million in December.
A new Apple display supplier, AUO, will send panels to Pegatron, a company that, like LG Display, assembles them for the finished tablet.
AUO shipped just over 100,000 units in September, the analyst estimates. Shim said in his research note: "AUO is having yield issues with the 7.9-inch panel, which is limiting (its) supply."
AUO plans to up this number of units to 400,000 units in October, double that in November, and plans on 1 million in December. Although these numbers look large, they do not appear to be enough to cover the estimated demand for the mini.
Another point: Samsung has been a key supplier for display for iPad. In previous iPad launches, Samsung and LG were the main panel suppliers. However, Shim notes: "Samsung and Apple appear to be winding down their relationship most likely due to the legal conflicts the two have been embroiled in recently." Apple recently won a high-profile patent dispute in the U.S., in which a jury ruled that Samsung smartphones and tablets infringed on Apple patents. For its part, Samsung says its still supply panels to Apple.