Foxconn to exclusively manufacture Apple’s iPad mini 2, rumor has it

iPad mini (Minimally Minimal 002, white, desk, Magic Mouse)

As we sift through Apple’s June quarter numbers and decipher vague hints suggesting a blockbuster Fall, rumors of a next-generation iPad mini continue to swirl. And where DigiTimes sees a Retina iPad mini in October, KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo sees a launch in March or April of 2014 given the battery and performance challenges stemming from driving a much smaller, thinner and lighter Retina display.

A pair of recent supply chain reports points to Apple commissioning Taiwan’s Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. (aka Foxcon) with assembly of the second-generation iPad mini. The company is additionally said to have included new suppliers in the iPad supply chain…

The Foxconn rumor originates in an article by Chinese web portal Sohu which cites investors as speculating Apple will exclude its other contract manufacturer, Pegatron, and instead ask Foxconn to exclusively manufacture the iPad mini 2.

Reacting on the news, Pegatron’s stock price fell by the daily limit last Wednesday and slumped four percent the following day. The article re-iterrates that the device has been delayed due to the limited production capacity of Retina displays, with total shipments expected to reach up to twenty million units.

And if you ask ET News, Retina manufacturing challenges may have prompted Apple to embrace Samsung as a supplier of iPad mini 2 screens, alongside Sharp and LG Display.

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

For those not in the know, Pegatron assembles the iPhone 4S and iPad mini.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple recently commissioned Pegatron to assemble a purported mid-range iPhone. The claim is in line with whispers of Apple moving away from Foxconn to Pegatron for (some) assembly work.

The iPhone 5S, however, should be assembled exclusively by Foxconn.

As for new iPad suppliers, Taiwan’s United Daily News reports that China-based Desay Battery will be included in the iPad supply chain in either the second half of 2013 or in early 2014.

Desay currently supplies iPhone batteries.

iPhone 5 battery replacement process (iFixit 001)

The United Daily News story also mentions that Jabil Circuit and Hi-P International have become chassis suppliers for the budget iPhone. This is interesting as we first read about Hi-P and Jabil as suppliers of the budget iPhone’s polycarbonate body in April’s Commercial Times report.

That Apple is increasing the number of suppliers is no surprise to seasoned watchers. The current CEO Tim Cook was Apple’s op-chief under Steve Jobs’s regime so for a person tasked with making sure the trains run on time he is all to well aware of the strategic importance of not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Under Cook’s watch, we’re now seeing a gradual diversification of Apple’s suppliers and manufacturers, perhaps even beyond Foxconn and Pegatron.

Mac Pro (2013 model, two-up, front, back)

The reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo acknowledged as much in a recent note to clients, writing Apple in 2014 will commission Taiwan’s Compal Communications, Wistron and Inventec Appliances to help build iPhones, iPod touches and iPads.

On top of that, Apple’s upcoming space-age Mac Pro has brought some manufacturing jobs back to the United States. The cylindrically-shaped pro desktop will proudly bear the ‘Assembled in the US’ label.