Sharp said to be cutting production of 9.7-inch iPad screens

iPad 3 (iPhoto teaser)

Reuters has issued a report this morning claiming that Sharp is cutting down production on iPad screens. The outlet cites two industry sources, who say the corp. has nearly halted manufacturing of 9.7-inch screens for the tablet at its Kameyama plant in Japan.

It’s not clear how much of the slowdown is due to seasonal changes in demand, or cannibalization, thanks to a rising consumer interest in Apple’s iPad mini. But regardless, this is still the second report of the Cupertino company cutting part orders this week…

Reuters reports:

“Sharp Corp has nearly halted production of 9.7-inch screens for Apple Inc’s iPad, two sources said, as demand shifts to its smaller iPad mini.

Sharp’s iPad screen production line at its Kameyama plant in central Japan has fallen to the minimal level to keep the line running this month after a gradual slowdown began at the end of 2012 as Apple manages its inventory, the industry sources with knowledge of Sharp’s production plans told Reuters.”

In addition to Sharp, Apple also buys its tablet screens from LG Display, its biggest supplier, and Samsung. And while the report says production at Samsung hasn’t significantly changed this month, it does note that LG’s iPad panel output has fallen since last quarter.

Reuters’ report comes less than a week after The Wall Street Journal claimed that Apple cut iPhone 5 component orders last month due to weaker-than-expected demand. The story made a lot of waves in the tech community, and knocked Apple’s stock down below $500.

The news also comes a day after a report that the iPad was outsold by another tablet in Japan over the holidays for the first time since 2010. Asian market-watcher Nikkei claimed yesterday that Google’s Nexus 7 outsold Apple’s slate by a 4% margin during December.

We’ll find out for sure next week how the iPad business is going, as Apple gives its earnings report from last quarter, as well as guidance for next quarter. Analysts are expecting the Mac-maker to announce that it sold between 20-25 million tablets in the holiday period.

What do you think, is iPad demand falling?