New report reaffirms iPad mini with Retina display will be in short supply at launch

2013 iPad mini 2 (Retina, three up, profile, front, back)

When Apple announced the new iPad mini with Retina display at its media event last week, the only launch date given was ‘November.’ The move seemingly confirmed previous chatter that the company has been having a hard time making the tablet.

And today, a new report out of Taiwan adds to the narrative, claiming that the mini’s initial supply constraint is directly related to its hi-res display. Apparently Sharp, who is responsible for 40% of the Retina mini panels, is seeing poor yield rates…

Here’s the report from DigiTimes:

“The availability of the iPad mini with Retina display may not be enough to meet market demand because Sharp’s supply of 7.9-inch Retina display panels based on its Oxide TFT process is seeing low yield rates, according to sources with Taiwan’s supply chain.

LG Display (LGD) is another supplier 7.9-inch Retina panels, the sources noted. LGD uses a-Si process and accounts for about 60% of the panels supplied for use in Apple’s iPad mini with Retina display, with Sharp accounting for 40%, the sources said.”

The report goes on to say that in addition to Sharp and LG Display, AU Optronics (AUO) and Innolux also tried to win orders for second-generation iPad mini screens. But it sounds like Apple wasn’t convinced they could properly mass-produce the panels.

During the company’s quarterly earnings call earlier this week, Tim Cook was asked if Apple though it would have enough Retina iPad minis to meet demand this quarter. And his response was: “It’s unclear whether we will have enough for the quarter or not.

So putting this all together, it looks like the iPad mini with Retina display is going to be extremely tough to find when it goes on sale later this month. When will that be exactly? Well Apple hasn’t said yet, but we imagine it’ll arrive just in time for Black Friday.

Conversely, the larger iPad Air is expected to be widely available when it launches this Friday.