updated 11:00 pm EST, Wed December 26, 2012
Factories may be unable to make 10-12M unit goal for Q4
While current iPad mini ship times are estimated to be no more than a week at the various worldwide online Apple Stores, industry sources indicate that shipments fell behind Apple's expectations, and that no more than eight million of the coveted mini-tablets actually shipped out, well below the 10-12 million Apple had wanted. The unconfirmed reports suggest that inventory management allowed countries that celebrate Christmas to have barely-sufficient quantity.
According to the unnamed sources, the problem is a lack of touchscreen panels -- or possibly the yield rate of those panels, which need to be nearly perfect in order to be used in the iPad mini. The report, from Taiwan-based DigiTimes, should be considered skeptically as there were few reports of iPad minis being sold out or completely unavailable, though anecdotal reports MacNN has received suggest that the most popular models did see frequent sellouts as Christmas approached.
Apple had allegedly wanted 10 to 12 million units made, necessitating some inventory management to ship fewer units to countries that don't widely observe Christmas -- such as China -- in order to make more iPad minis available to the European and North American markets. The claim that Apple could not have sold more than eight million units may also be a ploy to try and manipulate the stock price, which has seen a continued lowering towards the $500 per share mark, or could be a deliberate attempt to play down expectations of iPad mini sales ahead of final figures for the calendar year, which should be revealed in Apple's fiscal Q1 report late next month.
In any event, inventory levels are expected to stabilize in the next quarter, allowing better availability both in stores and online, where the week-long wait should fall to normal shipping times in the beginning of the new year. The iPad mini is on track to outsell even the full-size version of the recently-refreshed fourth-generation iPad, and may become Apple's second best-selling product behind the iPhone.