Apple reportedly cuts back on iPad mini screens ahead of next-gen model

iPad mini promo (users 005)

The hit-and-miss DigiTimes, a Taiwanese trade publication, Friday reported that Apple is expected to cut back on iPad mini display orders in the third quarter of 2013 as it gears up to manufacture a second-generation iPad mini.

According to the publication’s supply chain sources, AU Optronics’ (AUO) shipments of panels for the iPad mini are expected to decrease from four million units in the first quarter of 2013 to 2.5-2.8 million units in the second.

AUO is also expected to see more order cuts going into the third quarter – not due to weak demand, but because it’s facing manufacturing issues so Apple is now expected to buy its iPad mini panels mainly from rival LG Display, which is also a rumored supplier of Retina-grade screens for the second-generation iPad mini…

Here’s from DigiTimes:

Despite AUO’s struggles, the company has still submitted panels for use in the next-generation iPad mini for certification by Apple, the sources said, adding that so far LG Display and Sharp have been selected as panel suppliers for the upcoming tablet.

Another DigiTimes report notes that memory chips and high-performing camera modules for mobile devices are currently in short supply in China, which may or may not affect future Apple product shipments.

Now, DigiTimes better scrutinize its sources because last time I checked, Sharp was going to “focus on producing LCD panels for Samsung,” with IGZO panels targeted at Samsung laptops.

As Reuters reported on Tuesday, Sharp last year lost a whopping $5.4 billion and is now hoping orders from Samsung will help it survive. The struggling Japanese giant will look at “expanding cooperation with Samsung in technology for small screens used in smartphones and other mobile devices.”

“Samsung has OLED and we have IGZO and we are mulling cooperation there, although nothing concrete is yet on the table,” Sharp president Kozo Takahashi said.

DigiTimes also attributes AUO order cuts to the supposed 30 percent quarterly drop in iPad mini orders, suggesting weak demand for the product even though the iPad has a commanding lead in tablets (so much about Apple loosing its cachet as an industry innovator, Bloomberg!)

Please, somebody tell DigiTimes about seasonality.

iPad mini (three-up, front, back, profile, white)

As we inch closer to an iPad refresh, softening sales of the current-generation are the norm rather than an exception. As for the next-gen iPad mini, we’re hearing LG Display landed orders for those 7.9-inch Retina panels.

Although Apple recently hired an OLED display expert from LG Display, we don’t think the company is close to launching an OLED-enabled iOS device this year.

And if you ask NPD DisplaySearch, Apple will launch two Retina iPad mini 2 models: one this Fall and another one in the first quarter of 2013, featuring a faster chip.