NPD DisplaySearch is on a roll. After reporting yesterday that Apple could release two Retina-enabled iPad mini models – one in the second half of this year and another in the first quarter of 2014 with an updated processor, the display market researcher tell CNET today they think those high-resolution Retina panels for the second-generation iPad mini could go into mass-production soon, as early as June or July of this year.
If true, and assuming satisfactory yield rates, Apple should be able to ready its first Retina iPad mini for a Fall introduction, a time frame KGI Securities’ well-informed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo recently outlined based on his own sources…
CNET quotes NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim:
We should see the start of mass production of the panels in June or July.
LG Display, Shim says, “will be one of the major manufacturers of the display.”
Samsung, he added, “is not a supplier for the iPad mini.”
Samsung is currently not in the iPad mini and they won’t be in the next generation. LGD is becoming a much bigger supplier than before.
Apple has been moving away from Samsung for part orders over patent infringement.
According to the supply chain chatter, the iPhone maker is widely believed to be putting the last nail in the proverbial Samsung supplier relationship coffin by commissioning Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, the world’s largest independent semiconductor foundry, to manufacture next-gen processors for iOS devices.
LG Display is the principal supplier of iPad mini screens.
While Apple could increase the next iPad mini’s resolution to somewhere in between the 1024-by-768 panel on the current model and the 2,048-by-1,536 panel on the full-size iPad, doing so would fragment the platform by introducing a new screen resolution.
By keeping both the 9.7-inch and 7.9-inch device’s resolution same, programmers won’t have to do extra work as existing Retina iPad builds will run just fine on the iPad mini 2.
On the downside, Apple’s insistence on keeping things simple for developers is seemingly contributing to the Retina screen manufacturing headaches.
Another concern: those Retina screens don’t come cheap so the next iPad mini could possibly eat into the company’s already slim (by Apple’s standards, of course) margins for the device.
According to Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore, these cost concerns may be are “overblown.” The lower-than-expected iPad mini margins were “nearly entirely cyclical and not structural” as Apple ramped up production and perfected the manufacturing process, Whitmore explained last October in a note to clients.
A month ago, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo issued a note to clients asserting that Apple’s upcoming iDevices will likely be hitting store shelves later than anticipated due to a number of “technical challenges.”
Specifically, Kuo wrote Apple’s screen suppliers continue to face challenges related to mass-production of 7.9-inch Retina panels. Apple is thought to be using LTPS (Low-Temperature Polysilicon) screen for the iPad mini 2, which is essentially the same display tech used in the iPhone 5.