Sharp has “nearly halted” its production of 9.7-inch iPad displays as consumers shift their demand towards the smaller iPad mini, Reuters reports. Sources familiar with Sharp’s plans have claimed that production of the larger panels at Sharp’s Kameyama plant in central Japan has fallen to the “minimal level” this month following a gradual slowdown that began at the end of 2012.
The news follows speculation that the iPad mini has been “cannibalizing” sales of the larger model since its debut last November.
Sources were unable to disclose exactly how much of the production cut was due to seasonal demand, or how much was caused by consumers opting for the smaller, cheaper iPad mini. But Macquarie Research has estimated that 9.7-inch iPad shipments will drop nearly 40% in the current quarter to 8 million, from 13 million in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Apple’s total iPad sales are unlikely to show that decrease, however, because of the demand for the iPad mini. It’s also worth noting that Sharp isn’t the only manufacturer of iPad displays; Apple also has them produced by Samsung and LG Display. A source at Samsung said there have been no significant changes in iPad display production there.
Reuters notes that any indication that iPad sales are struggling could “add to concern that the appeal of Apple products is waning after earlier media reports said it is slashing orders for iPhone 5 screens and other components.”
As we’ve learned since that particular report from The Wall Street Journal, however, iPhone 5 demand continues to be strong, and Apple only cut component supplies because the device was too popular when it first launched last September. Apple ramped up orders back then to prevent delays, but now that supplies are stable, it’s been able to reduce them.