A new week brings a fresh batch of iPad rumors. According to a report out of Asia, Apple is gearing up to launch a Retina iPad mini in the third quarter of this year, alongside a redesigned fifth-generation 9.7-inch model with an iPad mini-like aluminum design, featuring a thinner bezel and lighter frame.
Despite Apple slashing shipments for its full-size iPad 4 in nearly half, from 60 million units down to 33 million units, the story notes the company has not reportedly seen any material decrease of iPad mini demand since its launch in October of 2012…
The company is now shooting for 55 million iPad mini units in calendar 2013. The growth of iPad mini shipments is likely to continue, given production for the smaller tablet was constrained due to production of the display – a factor which apparently was resolved in February.
A Fall Retina iPad mini release aligns nicely with several analysts’ reports.
Unlike the third-generation iPad 3 that added thickness because its Retina display required a more powerful GPU and a larger battery, the second-generation iPad mini could upgrade to Retina technology without compromising performance or portability, especially should Apple switch to power-savvy IGZO panels by Sharp and an optimized A5X chip (we’ve already seen Apple re-engineer the A5 chip inside the Apple TV).
The Japanese blog Macotakara passes along a Monday CNYes report which has it that Apple expects the lower-margin iPad mini shipments to continue outpacing those of its full-size, higher-margin counterpart throughout 2013.
The publication also speculates Apple might face yield issues with the iPad 5 possibly limiting availability initially and mentions Apple has revised total iPad shipments from 100 million down to 88 million. Foxconn assembly factories are reportedly stocking components and will ramp up manufacturing in the second quarter of 2013.
NPD DisplaySearch recently reported the exact same estimates.
Based on mobile panel shipments numbers, the research firm estimates Apple between December 2012 and January 2013 slashed orders for 9.7-inch panels from 7.4 million to 1.3 million units, but increased 7.9-inch panel orders to more than five million units.
Cnet spoke to a DisplaySearch analyst who expects a Retina iPad mini in the second half of this year.
Supply chain chatter points to Apple ordering Retina iPad mini panels from AU Optronics, LG Display and Japan Display, which is a merger of the mobile display operations of Sony, Hitachi and Toshiba, in conjunction with the Innovation Network Corporation of Japan.
If you ask IDC, Android tablets will collectively outship the iPad this year.