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Archive of iPad Mini Rumors

During today's earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared new information on the state of the iPad, including details on overall sales since the product launched a little over four years ago, recent growth in different markets, and hints at future plans. It was revealed earlier that sales of the iPad were down for the second straight quarter in a row, as the company sold a total of 13.3 million iPads, down from 14.6 million in the year-ago quarter.

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Cook said that iPad sales have totaled to 225 million units since 2010, as the current iPad Air and iPad mini have hit 98% and 100% customer satisfaction, respectively. According to recent market studies, 63% of customers planning to buy a tablet are planning to buy an iPad, while half of all iPad buyers were planning to buy their first iPad.

Additionally, Apple noted that 2.5 iPads are being sold for every Mac, as the tablet now holds an 85% share of the U.S. education market. Internationally, the iPad also experienced a 50% growth in China and 60% growth in the Middle East year-over-year.

In reaction to iPad sales being down, Cook noted "significant innovation can be brought to the iPad", stating "[Apple] plans on doing that" and that the tablet category as a whole is still "in its infancy." Recent reports have pointed to Apple launching updated models of the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini later this year, with each likely to come with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor and a faster A8 processor.

The company is also rumored to be preparing a larger "iPad Pro" which is said to feature a 12.9-inch ultra high-definition display. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo reported that the iPad Pro in 2015, but a recent report noted that Apple's plans may be on hold for the foreseeable feature.
According to a new report from Taiwan's Economic Daily News, Apple's third-generation iPad mini will be an "Air"-like model, featuring a design that shaves 30 percent off the thickness of the device. This thinness along with a powerful new A8 processor will be among the main selling points for the next generation iPad mini, claims the Asian sources (via GforGames).

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Mockups of the next generation iPhone, iPad Mini, and iPad Air from Apple.club.tw

While the sources of the rumor are given only as from the supply chain, the claim of a 30 percent thinner iPad mini seems to be an overly optimistic one. The original iPad mini measured 7.2 mm thick, and the device saw a slight increase to 7.5 mm with the move to a Retina display last year. The larger iPad Air moved in the opposite direction last year, slimming down from 9.4 mm in the fourth-generation iPad to match the Retina iPad mini at 7.5 mm.

A 30 percent reduction in thickness for the iPad mini would put it in the range of 5.25 mm, and how Apple would achieve such a reduction is unclear, especially given the increase in horsepower seen with the move to a Retina display last year. That move made the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini essentially identical with the exception of display size.

Apple is expected to release the updated iPad mini in the third quarter of 2014, likely following the iPhone 6 launch in September. Besides a possible thinner form factor and A8 processor, the next generation iPad mini also is expected to include a more durable Touch ID fingerprint sensor containing tin. Similar to the iPhone, the next generation iPad is expected to support iOS 8's new SDK that allows third-party developers to access the fingerprint scanner for verification purposes.

Besides the iPad Air and iPad mini, Apple is rumored to be expanding its iPad lineup with a larger 12.9-inch iPad. Dubbed the "iPad Pro," the larger model may not be released until 2015, claims DisplaySearch analyst David Hsieh. This prediction echoes a earlier report from KGI Securities Ming-Chi Kuo who also predicted a 2015 launch date for the oversized tablet device.
iphone_5s_touch_idA report from China Times (via GforGames) claims Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company is expanding its 8-inch chip plant in order to produce Touch ID sensors for the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. TSMC is planning to produce 120 million Touch ID units in 2014, a 233 percent year over year increase as the sensor expands beyond the flagship iPhone to other iOS devices.

In line with a previous report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, today's report claims Apple and TSMC are using tin to increase the durability of the sensor compared to the current version found in the iPhone 5s.

Supply chain sources say TSMC is scaling its mass production of new Touch ID units to begin delivery to Apple by early July, with third quarter production more than doubling over the previous quarter. A previous report had indicated that the first shipments of new Touch ID sensors began by early May, but these may still have been early batches for testing.

Similar to the iPhone's Touch ID, the iPad version will support the expanded functionality made possible by iOS 8's new SDK that allows third-party apps to access the fingerprint scanner for verification purposes. Touch ID also is rumored to be part of a mobile payment system under development by Apple.

Recent leaks hint at how the next-generation iPad Air and iPad Mini may appear with a Touch ID module and other design refinements such as a changed speaker grille and recessed volume buttons.
Apple.club.tw shares an image of what appears to be models of the next generation iPhone, iPad Mini, and iPad Air.

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The iPhone 6 models have already been covered extensively, while we got the first glimpse of the purported iPad Air 2 just last week. The iPad Air 2 model was shown to depict Touch ID, changed speaker grille, and recessed volume buttons.

The new image doesn't reveal any more details except the depiction of Touch ID on the new iPad mini. This year's iPads have been widely expected to gain Touch ID capabilities. Apple first introduced the Touch ID fingerprint scanning system with the iPhone 5S, and will be extending it to allow Apps to begin using it with iOS 8.
As part of its Father's Day promotional push, Target is offering the 16 GB non-Retina Wi-Fi iPad mini for just $199 in either white or space gray, a savings of $100 over Apple's standard pricing. The offer is only valid in-store, although customers can purchase online for store pickup. Quantities do, however, appear to be very limited, as most stores are currently showing no available stock.

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The discounted pricing is valid through June 14, so customers looking to take advantage of the big discount should check back frequently if their local stores are currently out of stock.

(Thanks, Steve!)
Apple has introduced reduced education pricing for the iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini, offering both tablets at starting prices of $469 and $379, reports iGeneration (Google Translate).

With both iPads still showing a standard retail price starting at $499 and $399, the new education pricing totals to a $30 discount on the iPad Air and $20 discount on the Retina iPad mini and marks the first time that Apple has included the iPad in the special program. Apple is also offering special education pricing on the first-generation iPad mini and the fourth-generation iPad, as well as deals on refurbished previous generation iPads.

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Apple previously cut education pricing on the non-Retina 13-Inch MacBook Pro to $999 last year, and also offers discounts on the entire Mac line in its education store. The discounted education pricing is available to employees of K-12 schools as well as faculty, staff, students, and parents of students at higher education institutions.
Apple announced today that it will begin offering the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini on Japanese carrier NTT DOCOMO starting Tuesday, June 10. Both tablets will be compatible with the company's nationwide Xi LTE service, as users will be able to pre-register for both devices beginning June 2nd at local DOCOMO stores and the carrier's website.
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"With the addition of iPad alongside iPhone, we now offer the complete lineup of Japan’s most popular mobile devices on the nation’s most reliable LTE network," said Kaoru Kato, President and CEO of NTT DOCOMO, INC. "We know our customers will enjoy using iPad Air and iPad mini, and anticipate that new customers will look to experience these amazing devices on our high-quality network with our new billing plan."

"We are extremely happy for iPad to join iPhone on NTT DOCOMO’s network," said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. "The results on iPhone have been tremendous, and we look forward to delivering iPad to NTT DOCOMO customers."
The iPad Air and Retina iPad mini were originally launched in Japan and a number of other countries last fall. The move also follows the launch of the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c on the carrier last September, marking the first time that Apple's phones were offered on DOCOMO. Since then, Apple has seen its share of the Japanese mobile phone market rise above 36%, with the iPhone accounting for more than 40% of phone sales on the carrier.
A new research note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo indicates that Apple will include Touch ID across all new iOS devices in 2014, boosting shipments and bringing the fingerprint sensor to the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3. The report reiterates previous claims made by Kuo last month, which noted that Apple's next-generation iPads will feature Touch ID upon their releases this fall.

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Apple’s Touch ID module should see shipments soar 233% in 2014. We believe every new iOS device launched this year will be equipped with Touch ID, including 4.7” and 5.5” new iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 2 with Retina display. Considering shipments of new products and iPhone 5S sales last longer than in 2013, we forecast unit sales of the fingerprint sensor module to grow 233% to 120mn for 2014.
Kuo also notes that Apple will change its Touch ID module design to utilize tin over previously used chemicals to enhance durability. Apple is also expected to stick with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) and its subsidary XinTec to produce the fingerprint sensors.

Last month, it was noted that TSMC provided the first batch of fingerprint sensors for the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3. A report in January noted that TSMC would begin production on the sensors sometime in the second quarter of this year with a new 12-inch fab processing method, however a report in February stated that TSMC would be using the same 8-inch fingerprint sensor processing method used for the iPhone 5s.

Improved shipments of Touch ID will also likely help launch supplies of all three devices, as low yield rates of the component was said to be a key factor contributing to the limited supplies of the iPhone 5s at its launch last September.
Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) has reportedly provided the first batch of Touch ID fingerprint sensors to be used in the iPhone 6, iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3, according to a new report from component information website cecb2b.com citing supply chain sources (Google Translate, via GforGames).

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In addition to production at TSMC, the report notes that the fingerprint sensors are being assembled by TSMC subsidiaries Xintec and Suzhou Crystal Semiconductor. A report in January noted that TSMC would begin production on the sensors sometime in the second quarter of this year with a new 12-inch fab processing method, however a report in February stated that TSMC would be using the same 8-inch fingerprint sensor processing method that was used for the iPhone 5s.

The inclusion of Touch ID on the next-generation iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini would also fall in line with predictions from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who noted that both devices would gain the feature alongside processor upgrades and various other improvements.

Apple's head start on Touch ID fingerprint sensor production will likely help the launch supplies of all three devices. The component was said to be a key factor contributing to the limited supplies of the iPhone 5s at its launch last September, with low yield rates at Xintec and iOS 7-sensor integration slowing production.
Since the release of the iPhone 5s last September, most observers have expected that the Touch ID fingerprint feature will be making its way into the iPad lineup as Apple is able ramp up production on the sensors, so it is no surprise that KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo earlier this month predicted that both the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini will be gaining the feature later this year.

Actual evidence of iPad Touch ID support has now been discovered by French iOS developer Pierre Blazquez, as noted by iDownloadBlog. The evidence comes in the form of a BiometricKit bundle in iOS that serves as the framework for the Touch ID functionality, with the bundle being listed as compatible with both iPhone/iPod and iPad families.

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Apple classifies its iOS devices into three families, with iPhone/iPod receiving a "1" designation, iPad receiving a "2" designation, and Apple TV classified as "3". BiometricKit is currently showing compatibility with both 1 and 2 families, although it is not exactly clear when iPad was added to the list.

Apple is likely to stick to its typical yearly upgrade cycle for this iPad generation, meaning that new iPads should appear in the latter part of this year. Kuo predicts that the new iPads will appear in late Q3 around the same time as new iPhones and perhaps Apple's much-rumored iWatch.

Update 9:07 AM: As noted by Benjamin Mayo, the reference has been around for "several iOS updates", but it still indicates that iPad support is likely in the works.
During Apple's earnings call today, Apple shared new details on the state of the iPad, including information on sales expectations, the launch of Microsoft Office for the device, the education market, and the use of the tablet compared to competitors.

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While the company's 16.35 million in iPad sales fell short of analyst expectations, Apple notes that sales came in at the high end of its internal expectations. Company executives cited two main factors: an increase in iPad channel inventory in the March 2013 quarter which artificially increased sales and that was "significantly" reduced this year; it also mentioned that it ended the December 2012 quarter with a substantial backlog of iPad mini orders that didn't shipped until 2013. The company added that it hit iPad supply/demand balance earlier in the launch cycle this year.

Apple also noted that two-thirds of people activating an iPad in the last six months were new to the device, while half of people registering an iPhone had never owned one before. Citing research from App Annie and Chitika, the company stated that the iPad generated four times the mobile web traffic as all Android tablets combined, and that two-thirds of US consumers that planned to purchase a tablet in the next 3 months would be purchasing an iPad.

CEO Tim Cook commented on the recent launch of Microsoft Office for the iPad, stating that the addition of the productivity suite "helps" and that it would have been financially beneficial for Microsoft to release the program "earlier". Overall, Cook noted that customers were "responding well" to Office in a field of many alternatives that were brought to the market, including Apple's own iWork suite for the iPad as well as competitors from other developers.

Cook also noted that Apple has a 95% share in the education market and that the company's focus was on getting more iPads into classrooms. He says the iPad is "the fastest growing product in Apple's history", and that the company is determined to stay focused on the things "we do best" and said that the company focuses on getting the details the right as opposed to simply being the first to launch.

Apple is expected to introduce updated models of the iPad Air and Retina iPad Mini this year, with some rumors suggesting that the company will add a larger "iPad Pro" to its tablet lineup in the near future.
As part of a larger green initiative to help consumers recycle old iOS devices, Apple is now expanding its Reuse & Recycling program in the U.S. and Canada to include the iPad, reports 9to5Mac. Apple also is making it easier for consumers to purchase new devices with more flexible terms for applying in-store credits obtained when recycling an iOS device.

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Previously, Apple's in-store Reuse & Recycling program accepted only iPhone models, which customers could trade-in for a store credit that could be used to purchase a new iPhone. Under this new plan, Apple will accept either an iPad or an iPhone for trade-in and will issue a credit that can be used towards a new purchase.

Customers may apply this credit towards a new iPhone or iPad, regardless of which device they are trading in, and they can even combine iPad and iPhone credits (with a limit of one of each device type) to apply toward the purchase of a new device. For example, a customer could trade-in an iPhone 5 and an iPad 2 to receive credits that can be combined to purchase a new iPad Air.

Apple yesterday confirmed it was expanding its Reuse & Recycling program to include all devices, regardless of their condition. Besides the iPad, Apple will accept for free any broken or older model Apple product providing customers with a way to easily recycle the device responsibly. If a recycled iPhone or iPad has some remaining value as determined by in-store Apple Specialists, Apple will issue a store credit.

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This expansion is part of Apple's Earth Day celebration that began with the company's "Better" environmental campaign, which highlighted Apple's environmental efforts across its supply chain, its data centers and in its new Apple Campus 2 project. Apple also is commemorating Earth Day at its retail stores by placing a green leaf on its traditionally white Apple logo and issuing green t-shirts to its retail employees.
Apple may be preparing to feature its Touch ID fingerprint sensor on updated models of the iPad Air and Retina iPad mini that will be released later this year, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo states in a new research note.
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We think the upgraded iPad Air will be launched earlier in 2014 than the iPad Air was in 2013. The biggest changes will be A8 processor, Touch ID (fingerprint recognition), and main camera resolution of 8MP.

...We previously thought Apple would not release a new version of the iPad mini this year, but we now think Apple will launch an upgraded version with same form factor, A8 processor and Touch ID (fingerprint recognition) to boost shipments of iPad mini with Retina display.
Regarding the next-generation iPad Air, Kuo adds that the tablet will launch at an earlier point than the original iPad Air did in November of last year. Kuo also notes that Apple is likely to cut the price of the existing Retina iPad mini, and that the newer model will feature the same form factor with an upgraded processor and Touch ID fingerprint sensor.

The researcher also once again speaks on the possibility of the long-rumored 12.9-inch iPad, stating that Apple is actively working on the device and gearing it towards uses in entertainment and productivity. However, Kuo notes that the product is unlikely to come out in 2014, falling in line with what he stated in his previous reports from this past February and last October.
Apple is set to release a slew of new products during the third quarter of 2014 according to KGI securities analyst Ming Chi Kuo, who often provides reliable information on Apple’s product lineup.

In a 2014 product roadmap, Kuo suggests Apple will introduce its first new product of the year, a lower-cost iMac, during the second quarter. Soon after, during the third quarter, Kuo predicts Apple will introduce an upgraded iPad Air and iPad mini, followed by an iWatch in two separate sizes, and a 4.7-inch iPhone.

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An upgraded Apple TV set-top box will come somewhat later, as will the rumored 12-inch ultra slim MacBook and upgraded Retina MacBook Pros. Later, in the fourth quarter, Apple will introduce the 5.5-inch iPhone, which is said to be delayed due to issues with in-cell display technology. Along with his roadmap, Kuo also gives specific information on each of Apple’s upcoming products.

- iWatch: Kuo believes the iWatch will ship during the end of the third quarter, offering biometric functionality, integration with the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and a "fashionable appearance." As has been previously suggested, he predicts the device will come in two sizes, with a 1.3-inch and 1.5-inch flexible AMOLED display. It will also include a sapphire cover lens, biometric recognition, an NFC chip, wireless charging, a 200 to 250 mAh battery, and a slim and light design. Kuo also believes that Apple will offer the iWatch at multiple price points, with the most expensive version costing upwards of $1,000.

- iPhone 6: Supporting previous iPhone 6 rumors, Kuo believes the device will come in two sizes: 4.7 and 5.5-inches, with resolutions of 1334x750 (326ppi) and 1920 x 1080 (401 ppi), respectively. Both models will come with an A8 processor, 1GB of RAM, LTPS display panels, optical image stabilization, and Touch ID. Kuo points to a 10 to 20 percent narrower bezel, a 6.5–7.0mm thickness, metal casings, and NFC integration. Mass shipments of the 4.7-inch version are expected in September, with the 5.5-inch version shipping later. Kuo suggests that only the 64GB 5.5-inch version will use sapphire displays.

- iPad Air 2: The second-generation iPad Air is expected to adopt Touch ID, an A8 processor, and an improved camera with a resolution of eight megapixels. Kuo believes the second iPad Air could come earlier in the year than the previous iPad Air, which was released in October.

- iPad mini with Retina Display: Like the iPad Air, a new Retina mini could gain an A8 processor and Touch ID, but Kuo believes it will retain the same form factor. He also suggests that the older iPad mini with Retina display could be sold at a lower cost.

- 12.9-inch iPad Pro: Kuo believes that Apple is indeed working on a 12.9-inch iPad, but he does not expect it to be launched in 2014.

- 12-inch MacBook Air: As rumored, Apple is believed to be preparing an ultrathin MacBook Air that incorporates a touchpad without buttons and functions without a fan. It is also expected to include a higher-resolution display.

- iMac: A lower-priced iMac is believed to be on the horizon, which Kuo says could help boost iMac shipments by up to 23 percent. It could be Apple’s first product launch of the year.

- Apple TV: Apple is not expected to launch a full television set this year, but an upgraded set top box with an App Store and motion control technology is expected.

While Kuo’s predictions do include many rumors that have previously surfaced over the past several months from a variety of sources, his roadmap gives a solid overview of what we might expect from Apple in 2014. We've also broken out several of his predictions into individual posts that can be found here: iWatch, iPad, iPhone 6, MacBook Air.
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.

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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.
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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.
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.

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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.
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.

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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 surfaced occasionally 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.
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.

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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.

(Thanks, Leonard!)
retinaminiTablets 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.
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.

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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.