When the iPad mini first became available in Apple retail stores, it was hard to gauge just how popular it was among fans — and how well it was selling. It seemed that the tablet wasn’t moving as quickly as other iOS devices on their first day, and for many customers it was easy to walk into store once the queues had died down and find one still in stock. Some assumed people didn’t want a device that started at $329, didn’t have a Retina display, and featured older hardware.
Despite that, the iPad mini’s on track to become a hugely successful product during its first year. NPD DisplaySearch expects it to reach 100 million shipments during 2013, eclipsing sales of the larger fourth-generation iPad.
The iPad mini has even taken Apple by surprise. DisplaySearch says the Cupertino company initially ordered 6 million units for 2012, but it’s now asking panel makers to double that number during the fourth quarter. Next year, the device is expected to reach 50 million units, accounting for half of all iPads sold.
“In 2013, it is likely that Apple will adjust its product portfolio to meet the strong demand for the iPad Mini. We believe that Apple is targeting total iPad shipments of 100 million in 2013, half accounted for by the iPad Mini,” said DisplaySearch analyst David Hsieh wrote.
Compared to the fourth-generation iPad, the iPad mini is selling much better. Hsieh believes that’s thanks to its smaller size, and its lighter, slimmer form factor — which makes it easier to carry around than its bigger brother.
Due to its popularity, display makers AU Optronics and LG Display are struggling to meet demand, and Apple will need to look at that if it wants to stay ahead of the demand next year, Hsieh said.
“If the iPad Mini volume is anything near 50 million units, Apple will need to find other panel suppliers in addition to AUO and LG Display.”
Could the Cupertino company be forced to ask Samsung for help? Its arch rival has supplied iPad displays in the past — and it’s believed it continues to do so for the fourth-generation iPad. For the iPad mini, however, Apple gave the Korean company the boot. It may be regretting that now.