The iPad Mini is now an actual thing instead of a projection, and not surprisingly, recent reports suggest it's going to be hard to find – especially in the early going.
The primary culprit for the unusually tight release is in the supply chain, which will have some difficulty in bringing out the necessary numbers of displays to release devices in the kind of volume necessary to prevent shortages.
It's usually a good bet to suspect that Apple device sales will be brisk, and that the devices will be at least somewhat difficult to find following the opening of pre-orders on October 26. But this time, pre-orders will likely be unusually more constrained thanks to issues in supply.
Apple recently began broadening its pool of suppliers, likely aimed at getting rival Samsung out of the supply loop. But trimming Samsung's involvement in the iPad line – indeed, in all Apple devices – is putting a lot of strain on those left behind. Apple is actively working to get more suppliers in the fray –recent word has put Apple working not only with LG and AUO, but even with Sony – but it's not yet up to snuff to provide material in the kind of quantity and quality that Apple demands.
AUO, for example, is already having issues getting the panels out in numbers sufficient; they shipped just 100,000 units in September, with plans to ramp that up to 400,000 units for October, 800,000 in November, and a target goal of a million in December. LG is taking up a substantial portion of the slack, shipping 300,000 in September, a million slated for October, 2.5 million planned for November and capping it off with three million in December.
Samsung, of course, was one of the top suppliers of panels for the iPad, but the recent bad blood between Samsung and Apple has left Apple eager to get Samsung out of the loop – especially when recently Samsung dropped word on plans to end production to Apple entirely, citing low margins.
Shortages on Apple products are pretty much standard for an Apple launch. It didn't take long, after all, for word about shipping delays on the iPhone 5 to emerge, so it shouldn't be much of a surprise that there will likely be shipping delays for the iPad Mini, given that the iPad Mini is geared toward a market that Apple previously had not been engaging.
As Apple shores up its shipping numbers to gear up for a Samsung-free future, these projections may ultimately change. But big demand for Apple gear is usually something to expect, so seeing the newest Apple release undergo the same kind of supply issues really shouldn't come as that big a surprise.
Those interested in picking up one of the new tablets at $329 likely should get their pre-order in on October 26, because if they don't, there may be an indefinite wait in the near future.
Edited by Braden Becker