Wednesday January 29, 2014 6:01 am PST by Eric Slivka
Following its mobile phone report earlier this week, research firm IDC has published its estimates of tablet shipments for the fourth quarter of 2013, showing that Apple continues to lead the market with roughly one-third of all shipments.
Worldwide tablet shipments in 4Q13 in millions of units (Source: IDC)
Apple's share of the market has generally declined over the past two years amid the proliferation of low-cost Android tablets, particularly unbranded "whitebox" devices in the Chinese market. The holiday quarter with refreshed iPads did, however, allow Apple to raise its share of the market to 33.8 percent from 29.7 percent in the previous quarter.
Apple once again led the worldwide market for tablets, shipping 26 million units during the quarter, up from 14.1 million the previous quarter and 22.9 million in 4Q12. While the quarter represented the company's most successful on record, its year-over-year growth of 13.5% was well below the industry average. The numbers bring into focus the challenges the company faces as it attempts to grow its tablet business in markets outside of its traditional mature-market strongholds and in the face of continued success from competitors both large and small.
Apple saw its worldwide tablet market share for the quarter grow to 33.8%, up from 29.7% in the third quarter but down from its 38.2% share in the fourth quarter of 2012.
Apple's iPad shipments (red) and share of worldwide tablet shipments (blue) for 2Q11–4Q13 (Source: IDC)
As always, it is important to note that IDC's numbers track shipments instead of sales, and thus how many shipped devices are making their way into consumers' hands remains unclear. IDC's figures are also estimates, as most companies do not release their exact tablet shipment data and thus research firms must rely on supply chain data and calculations from information that is made public by manufacturers to build their estimates.
Wednesday January 22, 2014 5:12 am PST by Kelly Hodgkins
Apple will announce its next quarterly earnings on Monday, January 27, and ahead of the announcement analysts are releasing their iPhone and iPad sales estimates for this holiday quarter. As we noted earlier this week, analysts predict record quarterly sales of 55 million iPhones, a 16% increase over the same quarter last year. A follow-up report today from Philip Elmer-Dewitt of Fortune suggests sales of the iPad will grow 10% year-over-year to also set a new record for Apple.
Elmer-Dewitt surveyed iPad sales estimates from 45 analysts, including 28 professionals and 17 amateurs. Estimates range from 21 million to 28 million units, with an average of 25 million units.
The average estimate among all the analysts is 25 million iPads, up 10% from the same quarter last year.
The indies, as usual, are a bit more bullish than the pros. As a group, they're looking for 16% growth, compared with the Street's 8%. Unless they've updated their numbers, four sell-side analysts -- Cowan's Timothy Arcuri, Credit Suisse's Kulbinder Garcha, Citi's Glen Yeung and CLSA's Avi Silver -- still expect Apple to report a drop in iPad sales.
Early metrics from the holiday season mirror these analyst expectations. By one count, the iPad lineup collectively accounted for 18% of Target's Black Friday sales, while the iPad mini was a top seller at Walmart. The App Store also experienced a spike in interest on Christmas day, with revenue increasing by 56 percent and the total number of downloads growing by 53 percent.
Apple will be reporting its quarterly earnings on January 27, 2014 after the close of trading, at approximately 4:30 PM Eastern / 1:30 PM Pacific. MacRumors will have full coverage of Apple's earnings release and the associated conference call taking place at 5:00 PM Eastern / 2:00 PM Pacific.
Saturday December 28, 2013 11:04 pm PST by Richard Padilla
Among "commercial channel" sales to distributors for corporate, government, and business customers, the iPad held the biggest share of sales for any tablet in the U.S. during 2013, while sales of Google Chromebooks made up a bigger percentage of the laptop market compared to Mac notebooks, according to a new report from The NPD Group.
The data in the report showed that the iPad accounted for 15.8% of personal computing device sales in the channel, which was greater than that of Android tablets at 8.7% and Windows tablets at 2.2%. However, the iPad's share of unit sales in the U.S. this year is down from the year-ago period, where it made up for 17.1% of sales. Sales of both Android tablets and Windows tablets grew by 4.5% and 1.4%, respectively.
Meanwhile, sales of Chromebooks in the United States grew to 9.6% in 2013, surpassing the 1.8% share of unit sales held by Apple notebooks. Windows notebooks still held on to 34.1% of the market, but was down 8.8% from the 42.9% share it held last year.
The news follows a broader report from October stating that Mac sales were down 7% year-over-year for the full September quarter, as the decline of traditional PC sales as a whole is likely due in part to the rising popularity of tablets.
Both the iPad and the MacBook line of notebooks saw refreshes this year, as Apple announced the iPad Air and iPad mini with Retina Display along with updated models of the 13-inch and 15-inch Retina MacBook Pro at its October event. New versions of the 11-inch and 13-inch MacBook Air were also announced at Apple's WWDC keynote this past June, and featured enhanced performance with significantly improved battery life.
Apple could also be gearing up to release new types of both products in 2014. Rumors of a larger-size iPad for release in 2014 have surfacedoccasionally throughout the past few months, and a report in October from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated that Apple may be planning to release a 12-inch MacBook with an all-new design in the middle of 2014.
Friday December 13, 2013 3:17 pm PST by Juli Clover
As the holidays approach, Apple's Retina iPad mini supplies have begun to improve, alleviating the supply constraints the product has faced since its quiet November 12 launch.
In the Online Apple Store, Retina iPad mini shipping estimates for all models and capacities, including cellular models, have decreased to 1 to 3 days in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Asia Pacific. The Retina iPad mini continues to ship within 3 to 5 days in European countries.
The new shipping estimates are a significant improvement from shipping estimates in late November, which slipped to 5 to 10 days for multiple weeks before improving to 3 to 5 days earlier this week.
Issues with display yields were reportedly behind Apple's supply shortages, and as a result of the constrained supplies, Apple launched the Retina iPad mini in the middle of the night, offering the tablet solely via its online store and through Personal Pickup. It wasn't until 10 days after launch that Apple began allowing walk-in sales of the Retina mini. Cellular models have been the most constrained, with multiple carriers experiencing back orders on cellular Retina iPad minis in November.
Just a few weeks ago, a report suggested Apple had solved its production problems, allowing it to build up some supplies for the holiday shopping season. Along with shorter shipping estimates, in-store supplies of the Retina iPad mini appear to have improved slightly as well, with several colors and capacities available for immediate pickup in quite a few Apple Stores around the country.
According to an unofficial web tracker, supplies of the 16 and 32 GB Wi-Fi models are widely available, while the larger 64 and 128 GB Retina iPad minis and all cellular minis remain in shorter supply.
Apple’s holiday shipping guidelines now suggest that U.S. customers order the non-engraved Retina iPad mini by December 16 for a December 24 delivery with standard shipping.
Monday December 2, 2013 6:25 am PST by Richard Padilla
Tablets have proven to be the most popular consumer electronics item on buyers' early holiday shopping lists, with a new research note from Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White citing numbers from the Consumer Electronics Association revealing that 39% of shoppers looking for consumer electronics over the Black Friday weekend were planning to purchase a tablet. Supporting that data, both Walmart and Target highlighted iPads as top sellers on Black Friday.
With Apple's new iPad Air and Retina iPad mini having hit the market in recent weeks, Apple is well-positioned to take advantage of the surge in tablet interest, although the company has been struggling hard to ramp up production on the Retina iPad mini to meet holiday shopping demand. White notes that supplies for Apple's retail stores continue to improve, although 64 GB and 128 GB cellular-capable variants remains in tight supply.
Based on our survey across 38 Apple Retail Stores in the U.S. market, all Wi-Fi only models for both the iPad mini with Retina Display and first-generation iPad mini are readily available. Regarding Wi-Fi + Cellular models for the iPad mini with Retina Display, 64GB and 128GB models have very limited stock, while 16GB models are plentiful. For example, 47% of the Apple Retail Stores that we surveyed sold out the iPad mini with Retina Display 128GB models and 42% sold out 64GB models, while only 29% sold out 32GB models and 3% sold out 16GB models.
The news comes ten days after Apple's retail stores began offering walk-in sales of Retina iPad Mini models, along with a report last week stating that supplies of the tablet are beginning to improve after Apple was reportedly struggling with display yields that limited production.
Overall, in-store availability of Retina iPad mini models has improved markedly for Apple's U.S. retail stores, although availability of Wi-Fi models remains much stronger than for cellular-capable models. Orders placed through Apple's online store are currently being quoted 5-10 business day shipping estimates for all models.
Wednesday November 27, 2013 7:38 am PST by Eric Slivka
As numerous potential customers have discovered, the Retina iPad mini has been in very short supply since its quiet launch earlier this month, with Apple reportedly struggling with display yields that have limited production.
Several analysts had previously predicted that Retina iPad mini production would be limited to roughly two million units for the fourth quarter of 2013, but a new report from Digitimes claims that the production issues have been solved and that Apple has forged ahead with orders for four million units for the month of November as the company scrambles to build up its supplies for the holiday shopping season.
As bottlenecks in making components for the iPad mini with Retina have gradually been removed, Apple has increase orders in November to nearly four million units, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.
Currently, Apple's orders for the iPad mini with Retina have already surpassed those for the first-generation iPad mini, the sources noted.
In-store availability of Retina iPad mini models has improved markedly for Apple's U.S. retail stores, with the company starting to offer walk-in sales late last week, although availability of Wi-Fi models remains much stronger than for cellular-capable models. Orders placed through Apple's online store are currently being quoted 5-10 business day shipping estimates for all models.
Friday November 22, 2013 6:19 am PST by Eric Slivka
Following a surprise launch last week that saw Apple's retail stores offering the new Retina iPad mini only for Personal Pickup of online orders, the company's U.S. stores have now begun selling the device to walk-in customers. Supplies do, however, remain extremely tight, and thus ordering online for Personal Pickup to secure a specific model is still advised.
The launch of walk-in sales was noted this morning in a research note from Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White, who indicated that a number of New York City stores received shipments designated for walk-in customers last night and this morning. MacRumors has confirmed that walk-in sales are now being offered in some stores, although one store contacted by MacRumors reported that it was still offering only Personal Pickup options.
Apple has also updated its iPad retail page to simply encourage customers to purchase in-store, rather than specifically noting that they should purchase the Retina iPad mini online for in-store pickup.
The tight supply constraints on Retina iPad mini models mean that Personal Pickup remains unavailable for many models at many stores, with several supply trackers attempting to help customers determine whether their desired models are available in their areas. Online orders through Apple's U.S. online store continue to show 5-10 business day shipping estimates for all models.
Update 10:40 AM: White has issued a new note reporting that 26 out of 32 stores surveyed by his team currently have at least some stock of Retina iPad mini models available for walk-in purchase.
Thursday November 21, 2013 5:39 am PST by Richard Padilla
Major U.S. carriers Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile are still experiencing back orders on the cellular version of the iPad Mini with Retina Display, signaling that the 3G/4G version of the tablet is still experiencing heavy supply constraints, reports CNET. While Apple's online store still shows that cellular Retina iPad minis are available to ship in 5-10 business days, Verizon's page for the device shows that the device will ship by December 2, with T-Mobile and AT&T showing 6-8 week and 21-28 day delivery estimates, respectively.
Small amounts of stock of the cellular-capable models of the device began trickling into Apple's U.S. retail stores one day after the device's surprise launch last week, with Apple offering a Personal Pickup option for online orders. However, overall production of the device has been heavily constrained for the time being due to suggested display production issues, with shipments of the tablet likely to double in Q1 2014 as shortages ease.
First announced at Apple's iPad-centric October event, the second-generation iPad mini features a high resolution 2048x1536 display, with 326 pixels per inch, and a 64-bit A7 chip with the M7 motion co-processor. Those interested in purchasing the device can also check out an unofficial web tracker for checking the availability of Retina iPad mini models at Apple's U.S. retail locations. The tracker continues to show low in-store availability, with Sprint and low-capacity Wi-Fi models seeing the best supplies.
Monday November 18, 2013 6:42 am PST by Eric Slivka
Last week, we noted that some Retina iPad mini displays were exhibiting image retention issues, while in general other users were expressing some dissatisfaction with the color gamut of the Retina iPad mini's display, particularly compared to that of the iPad Air.
In an extensive review of the Retina iPad mini, AnandTech came away extremely impressed with the device but cited that color gamut issue as a significant disappointment.
Although display resolution is no longer a concern on the mini, color gamut hasn’t changed between the old and new minis. [...]
The iPad mini with Retina Display has the same color gamut as the standard iPad mini, which is narrower than the iPad Air and less than the sRGB coverage we normally look for. The biggest issue here is that there are other smaller tablets in this price range that do offer sRGB coverage (e.g. Nexus 7, Kindle Fire HDX 8.9).
DisplayMate's Ray Soneira has also taken a look at the Retina iPad mini's display in a "shoot-out" with the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Google Nexus 7, with the Retina iPad mini's display registering a "distant 3rd place finish". The poor showing is due in large part to the iPad mini's narrow color gamut, which naturally leads to poor color accuracy.
[T]he iPad mini with Retina Display unfortunately comes in with a distant 3rd place finish behind the innovative displays on the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and new Nexus 7 because it still has the same small 63 percent Color Gamut as the original iPad mini and even older iPad 2. That is inexcusable for a current generation premium Tablet. The big differences in Color Gamut between the Kindle Fire HDX 7 and Nexus 7 and the much smaller 63 percent Gamut in the iPad mini Retina Display were quite obvious and easy to see in the side-by-side Viewing Tests. [...] This all appears to be due to incredibly poor planning. Instead of moving up to the higher performance (and cost) Low Temperature Poly Silicon LCDs, Apple chose to continue gambling on IGZO, which has resulted in both production shortages and inferior products.
Color gamut of Retina iPad mini, Kindle Fire HDX 7, and Nexus 7 (Source: DisplayMate)
Soneira notes that the strong performance by Google/ASUS with the LTPS display in the Nexus 7 and Amazon with its Quantum Dots technology in the Kindle Fire HDX 7 "should be a wakeup call" for Apple, as the company is clearly no longer leading the industry in display quality.
One complicating factor in comparing the 7.9-inch 4:3 Retina iPad mini to the 7-inch 16:10 tablets from Google and Amazon is the fact that the 35% larger display area for the iPad mini would result in substantially higher costs if Apple were to shift to a different display technology such as LTPS. Still, to consumers comparing display quality of various tablets, the iPad mini appears to be a clear notch below its competitors.
Friday November 15, 2013 10:23 am PST by Juli Clover
Some Retina iPad minis are demonstrating image retention issues, as noted by Instapaper creator Marco Arment, who originally developed a grid test to detect the problem in Retina MacBook Pros.
Image retention was first cited as a potential issue last week, when a rumor suggested that burn-in on Sharp's IGZO panels was causing production delays with the Retina mini's display, leading to significant supply constraints that have resulted in a quiet release for the tablet.
While it is unclear how many Retina iPad minis are affected by the issue, several mini owners on Twitter have discovered the problem after running the grid test. It is not known if the image retention is limited to displays from specific manufacturers, as many Retina iPad minis are not experiencing display problems.
An example of image retention after running the grid test, via Twitter
Displays with image retention are not a new problem for Apple. The original Retina MacBook Pro displays demonstrated severe image persistence problems, with remnants or previously-displayed windows remaining visible on the screen for several minutes. It is important to note, however, that the image retention is temporary and not permanent like the burn-in seen with some plasma displays.
In normal use cases, it is unlikely that the image retention is noticeable, but Retina iPad mini owners experiencing image retention are still within their return windows. Apple has replaced Retina MacBook Pros experiencing display problems, and it is likely that a similar policy will be adopted for Retina iPad minis with image persistence.
In addition to image retention, some users on the MacRumors forums have also noted that their Retina mini screens are not as vibrant as iPad Air, suggesting the Retina iPad mini may have a smaller color gamut.
Apple's Retina iPad mini is currently available from the Apple Online Store beginning at $399. Orders are currently shipping within 1 to 10 days in the United States depending on capacity and cellular capability, and while Apple has not made the mini widely available in its stores, it is also available in many areas via Personal Pickup.
Thursday November 14, 2013 5:41 am PST by Richard Padilla
Another unofficial web tracker for checking the availability of Retina iPad mini models at Apple's U.S. retail locations has surfaced, providing help to those attempting to purchase the supply-constrained device. Obscurely hosted on marine life conservation website Seaturtle.org, the website offers a grid view of inventory checks of each Retina iPad Mini model for every Apple Retail Store in the United States, displaying a green, red, or white box for availability, unavailability, or non-checked information, respectively.
For model/location combinations that have not recently been checked, users are able to click on the cell content to update the data and check nearby stores. Users can also register for email notifications when specific models become available for pickup at their local stores. Apple launched its Personal Pickup option for the Retina iPad mini earlier this week, with stores seeing quick sellouts of many models. Walk-in sales of the device will apparently not be offered until supplies improve.
Wednesday November 13, 2013 10:25 am PST by Eric Slivka
One day after the surprise launch of the Retina iPad mini, small amounts of stock of the cellular-capable models of the device have begun trickling into Apple's U.S. retail stores. The company has been offering Personal Pickup of online orders since yesterday, but until now that service has been limited to Wi-Fi models.
Model selection is currently very limited and many stores have yet to show any available cellular models, but availability should improve over time as Apple delivers more stock to its stores.
While Apple retail stores in several other countries did have stocks of the cellular-capable Retina iPad mini at launch yesterday, the company's U.S. stores did not have any available. Online orders for the Retina iPad mini through Apple's U.S. store launched with 1-3 day shipping estimates on 16 and 32 GB Wi-Fi models, with larger-capacity Wi-Fi and all cellular models showing 5-10 day shipping. A number of customers who placed orders for Wi-Fi models have already seen their orders shipping directly from China, with delivery scheduled for early next week.
Wednesday November 13, 2013 7:05 am PST by Richard Padilla
The experts at iFixit have performed another one of their usual high-quality teardowns on Apple's new iPad mini with Retina display, revealing that while the device is nearly unchanged visually from the original iPad mini, it features a number of internal upgrades such as an A7 chip and M7 motion coprocessor alongside the new high-resolution display.
Notably, a number of parts in the iPad Mini with Retina Display appears to be very similar to those found in the iPad Air, including similarities in the display driver, M7 coprocessor, NAND flash storage, Wi-Fi module, and audio amplifers between the two devices. However, the Retina iPad Mini appears to be using a different A7 processor than the 1.4 GHz variant found in the iPad Air, with the APL0698 part in the iPad mini matching the 1.3 GHz A7 found in the iPhone 5s rather than the 1.4 GHz APL5698 part seen in the iPad Air. The Retina iPad mini's slightly slower A7 chip was revealed in benchmarks done on the device yesterday.
The main feature of the device is of course the 2048 x 1536 resolution display, which appears to be manufactured by LG. Apple has been said to be turning to Samsung as a display supplier for the iPad mini due to low yields from LG and Sharp, but it is clear that at least LG is providing some panels for the launch batch. The new iPad mini also carries a significantly larger battery than the 16.3 Whr battery found in previous iPad mini, with the new tablet's battery measured at 24.3 Whr. That extra battery capacity in large part goes toward supporting the new Retina display, with the device offering the same 10-hour battery life as the previous generation.
As is tradition for iFixit's teardowns, the company has assigned a repairability score to the iPad mini with Retina display based on the accessibility of the various components. As with the iPad Air, the firm rates the Retina iPad mini's repairability at just 2 out of 10, with the firm again assessing positive points for easy LCD accessibility and a non-soldered battery, but the amount of adhesive and hidden screws used to hold the device together make repair extremely difficult.
Wednesday November 13, 2013 5:46 am PST by Richard Padilla
Shipments of the supply-constrained iPad mini with Retina display are likely to double in Q1 2014, according to market research firm IHS iSuppli (via CNET) and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, with both stating that the estimated shipment of 2 million Retina iPad mini tablets in the current quarter will grow to a total shipment of about 4.5 million devices in the first three months of next year.
Rhoda Alexander, director of Tablet and Monitor Research at IHS iSuppli, stated the following about the supply constraints surrounding the tablet:
Rhoda Alexander told CNET on Tuesday that she expects production of about 2 million Mini Retina tablets in the fourth calendar quarter.
"When you think about some of the releases where they sold that many iPads in a weekend," that's not a lot, she said.
Meanwhile, Ming-Chi Kuo stated his estimates for a production boost of the tablet, stating that shipments of the Retina iPad mini will increase due to an improvement in manufacturer yield:
We maintain our iPad mini R shipments forecast of around 2.2mn units for 4Q13. Considering production yield improvement at the supply chain, we forecast shipments will grow 102% QoQ in 1Q14 to 4.5mn units. But marked shipments growth given the low base in 4Q13 can’t make up for overall iPad shipments in 1Q14.
In something of a surprise move, Apple began accepting orders for the Retina iPad mini in the United States and several other countries yesterday, with the device's quiet launch potentially due to constrained supplies. Currently however, availability through Apple's online store appears to be holding up for the time being, with the company's U.S. stores showing the same shipping estimates seen at the time orders went live: 1-3 business days for 16 and 32 GB Wi-Fi models and 5-10 business days for all other models.
Previous rumors have suggested that available quantities of the mini are extremely low due to display production issues, with Apple turning to Samsung to help with production. Apple did also launch its Personal Pickup option for the Retina iPad mini yesterday, with stores seeing quick sellouts of many models. Walk-in sales of the device will apparently not be offered until supplies improve.
Tuesday November 12, 2013 9:39 am PST by Juli Clover
Apple's new Retina iPad mini includes the same 64-bit A7 chip used in the iPad Air and the iPhone 5s, which offers significantly better performance than the A5 chip found in the original iPad mini.
According to new Geekbench 3 benchmarks, the Retina iPad mini is running at 1.3Ghz, much like the iPhone 5s. The iPad Air, however, clocks in at 1.4Ghz, giving it a slight performance edge over both the iPhone 5s and the new mini.
The Retina iPad mini scored a 1390 on the single-core test and a 2512 on the multi-core test, which was similar to the iPhone 5s score of 1399/2523, and lower than the iPad Air at 1466/2856. Compared to the 261/493 score of the original mini, the Retina iPad mini marks an incredible boost in performance speeds.
It is unclear why the mini is clocked at 1.3Ghz instead of 1.4Ghz like the iPad Air, but in terms of real world usage, users are unlikely to notice the small speed differences. It is possible that Apple chose the lower clock speed in the iPad mini to improve overall battery life or to reduce heat within the smaller chassis.
Apple's Retina iPad mini went on sale last night at midnight and is currently still available from the Apple Online Store and in Apple retail locations via Personal Pickup.
Tuesday November 12, 2013 6:02 am PST by Eric Slivka
Following the start of orders for the Retina iPad mini a few hours ago, Apple has issued a press release officially announcing the launch. The release notes that the Retina iPad mini will not only be available for online orders, but also through the in-store Personal Pickup mechanism by which customers can check stocks at their local Apple retail stores and purchase online before heading to their stores to pick up their orders. Walk-in sales will apparently not be offered until supplies improve.
Stocks of the Retina iPad mini have apparently yet to make their way to Apple's U.S. retail stores, as all stores are currently showing no availability for pickup, but limited supplies should be arriving shortly. Some of Apple's international stores do, however, already have stock available for in-store pickup, as noted by MacStories' Federico Viticci, who has placed an order for pickup and confirmed with his local store in Italy that supplies are indeed available.
Availability through Apple's online store appears to be holding up for the time being, with the company's U.S. stores showing the same shipping estimates seen at the time orders went live: 1-3 business days for 16 and 32 GB Wi-Fi models and 5-10 business days for all other models.
Update: Some U.S. retail stores on the East Coast are beginning to show availability of Wi-Fi models for Personal Pickup. Many stores have all 8 color/capacity Wi-Fi configurations available at the moment.
Update 2: Apple has now opened up Personal Pickup availability for a number of its stores across the United States. Many stores are, however, still listing no in-store stock, and those that do have stock are seeing quick sellouts of many models.
Monday November 11, 2013 11:01 pm PST by Juli Clover
In something of a surprise move, Apple has begun accepting orders for the Retina iPad mini in the United States and several other countries as of midnight Pacific Time on November 12. Orders for the 16 and 32 GB Wi-Fi versions are currently shipping within 1 to 3 business days while orders for the 64 and 128 GB versions along with cellular models are shipping within 5 to 10 days.
The company did not give any early indication that it would launch the Retina iPad mini today, aside from a mention of the seemingly unlikely November 12 date on its GSX site for service providers just hours ago.
The quiet launch of the Retina iPad mini may be due to constrained supplies, as rumors have suggested that available quantities of the mini will be extremely low due to display production issues. Apple is unlikely to have enough supply of the tablet to meet demand.
Visually, Apple's Retina iPad mini is nearly unchanged from the original mini, though it is both slightly heavier and thicker. The tablet includes a Retina display with a 2048 x 1536 resolution, along with an A7 processor and the M7 coprocessor originally introduced in the iPhone 5s.
The entry-level 16 GB Retina iPad mini will retail for $399 in the United States, with an extra $100 for each increase in capacity and $130 for cellular connectivity.
Monday November 11, 2013 4:18 pm PST by Juli Clover
Apple will launch its long awaited Retina iPad mini on November 12, according to multiple sources citing a posting by Apple on the company's GSX site for service providers. Apple plans to launch the tablet in the United States, Australia, China (Wi-Fi only), Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore.
While a release time beyond 'November 12' was unavailable, Apple has previously launched its products via press release at around 5:30 AM. It is possible that the company will notify consumers of the mini's availability with a press release before initiating sales in-store and online. It is, however, already November 12 in a number of countries around the world, including New Zealand, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Singapore, and Japan.
While the quiet release of an iPad is unusual for the company, it could be due to reports of severe supply constraints of the Retina iPad mini. According to reports, display problems have caused serious production issues, and it is unlikely Apple will have enough supply of the tablet to meet demand.
Apple's Retina iPad mini has the same general design of the original mini, though it is slightly heavier and thicker. The tablet includes a Retina display with a 2048 x 1536 resolution, along with an A7 processor and the M7 coprocessor originally introduced in the iPhone 5s.
The Retina iPad mini will retail for $399 for the entry-level 16 GB Wi-Fi model with an extra $100 for each capacity increment and $130 for cellular connectivity.
Update: All of Apple's online stores around the world have gone offline. It is unclear, however, if the downtime is related to preparations for a Retina iPad mini launch or simply scheduled maintenance that commonly occurs at this time of day.
Friday November 8, 2013 5:33 am PST by Richard Padilla
Last week, a report from Japanese business newspaper Nikkei shed light on the production issues surrounding the forthcoming Retina iPad mini, stating that Apple is now turning to rival Samsung as suppliers Sharp and LG Display have failed to produce an ample supply of displays for the new tablet. Now, a report from Korean website ETNews (via Unwired View) has elaborated on the matter, with Sharp's IGZO panels for the Retina iPad mini said to be suffering from screen burn-in issues.
While the burn-in issue is reportedly invisible to users, the panels do not meet Apple's specifications and thus the high rejection rate has resulted in low panel yields for the tablet. As noted in a report earlier this week analyzing the new iPad Air's use of IGZO technology, Sharp has experienced difficulties ramping up production of its IGZO panels in the past, with it taking until now for Apple to bring the technology to its products.
The burn-in problem was caused by the drastic reduction of the pixel size. The resolution of the 7.9-inch iPad mini with Retina display is 2048×1536, about four times clearer than the existing 1024×768 products. LG Display used the amorphous silicon (a-Si) for the substrate, whereas Sharp used IGZO. The pixel of the smartphone display is smaller than that of the iPad mini Retina panel, but as the Low Temperature Polycrystalline Silicon (LTPS) technology is used, it can be produced stably. The pixel of the iPad mini Retina is the smallest among those products using a-Si. Sharp failed to solve the chronic problem of IGZO, i.e. uniformity, and its yield went down.
The report also elaborates on how Apple may be negotiating with Samsung to produce displays for the device starting next year, turning back to its rival in part due to Samsung's experience solving a similar problem with third-generation iPad's move to a Retina display.
Apple is negotiating with Samsung Display for the supply of displays starting next year. Apple discussed cooperation with Samsung Display when it was planning on the iPad mini Retina. AUO, which was the iPad mini display supplier, was excluded from the retina version because of its yield problem. Apple was planning to receive 15 million panels from LG Display, Sharp and Samsung Display at the end of this year. However, as the negotiation with Samsung Display fell through, only LG Display and Sharp made it to the final list of primary suppliers.
If the issue of screen burn-in persists, the report also states that Apple may move to LTPS technology such as that seen in the Kindle Fire HDX, as it is less prone to the problem. However, while LTPS is commonly used on displays for smaller devices such as the iPhone, Apple is unlikely to mass produce the displays for larger screens in part due to scalability issues that simply won't support the tens of millions of tablets that the company is producing each year.
Apple CEO Tim Cook stated last week during the company's fourth quarter earnings call that it was "unclear whether we will have enough for the quarter or not," as the company has only promised that the tablet will arrive by the the end of November. As noted by Apple during the introduction of the second-generation iPad mini, a Retina display has been one of the most requested features for the smaller iPad since its release last year.
Update: MacRumors spoke with Ray Soneira of DisplayMate Technologies, who noted that LG is almost certainly not using a-Si for its Retina iPad mini display panels due to significant power issues with trying to drive a display of that pixel density using the technology. The company has also been shipping its own IGZO display panels for some time now, and Soneira pointed out that "it would be very inefficient to engineer the iPad mini to ship using two significantly different display technologies."
Soneira also clarified that "burn-in" is the incorrect term for what would be happening with these LCDs. It would be a short-term image retention issue perhaps similar to what some early Retina MacBook Pro users experienced, although it appears in this case that the effect is invisible to users.
Wednesday November 6, 2013 5:15 am PST by Richard Padilla
Apple is set to add new manufacturing partners in Asia to handle production of its current line of iOS devices, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The company will contract with Wistron to produce the cheaper iPhone 5c and Compal Communications to assemble the iPad mini, though the report does not say whether the latter will assemble the iPad mini or Retina iPad mini. Apple is reportedly expanding its supplier list as its primary supplier, Foxconn, is focused on producing the iPhone 5s.
Furthermore, Apple is reportedly said to be unhappy with the labor issues that have surrounded Foxconn over the past few years, along with the repair costs said to have come with the high return rate of defective iPhones:
Hon Hai, also known as Foxconn, has also been under scrutiny for its labor practices, creating a headache for Apple, they said. According to J.P. Morgan analyst Alvin Kwock, the high return rate of defective iPhone 5 smartphones also led to tensions between Apple and Hon Hai over which company would be responsible for repair-work costs.
Last month, Apple notified Pegatron and Foxconn that it would be reducing orders of the iPhone 5c, with another report stating that iPhone 5s production was to be boosted by 75 percent to meet demand. The iPhone 5s remains in very short supply, with carriers such as Verizon and T-Mobile indicating that they could have sold even more units of the device had supplies been readily available. The iPhone 5c, in contrast, has seen good supplies throughout Apple's distribution channels, allowing the company to meet demand.
"Apple has raised this quarter's iPhone 5S orders from Hon Hai as demand has been stronger than expected. But it takes time to boost production capacity and Apple can't find other assemblers to increase production to meet demand immediately," said the Hon Hai executive.
Meanwhile, Apple's upcoming iPad mini with Retina display is said to be in very short supply, with Apple CEO Tim Cook stating last week during the company's fourth quarter earnings call that it was "unclear whether we will have enough for the quarter or not" and a report last week stating that the company is turning to Samsung as low display yields for the Retina iPad mini continue. Currently, it is not known when specifically the second-generation iPad mini will be released, as Apple has only stated that the tablet will be out by the end of November.
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