It was reported that Sharp “nearly halted” their production of 9.7-inch panels for the full-size iPad. There were also claims that the change was made in response to strong sales shifting to the iPad Mini.
Going Minimum—Panels for 9.7-inch iPad
According to two sources that tipped Reuters, production of the 9.7-inch LDC displays has “fallen to a minimal level” at Sharp’s Kameyama, Japan plant. There were also reports that the slowdown started at the end of 2012.
The sources didn’t say how much of the slowdown was due to seasonal changes in demand of consumers opting for the smaller iPad Mini, and were unable to characterize Apple’s overall tablet sales.
While some sources takes the slowdown of production as inventory management, some industry watchers believe that it has something to do with the iPad Mini’s significant impact on iPad sales. In fact, NPD DisplaySearch’s report that was published last December indicated that the 7-inch tablet is already on track on outselling the regular iPad.
It is unlikely that a breakdown of iPad versus iPad Mini sales is upcoming, as Apple does not detail sales of individual products. However, the company is set to report their quarterly earnings this Wednesday, which is deemed to be their most important call in a decade.
Rumor After Rumor of Production Cuts
The report about Sharp cutting production of the 9.7-inch iPad’s panels came at the heels of previous reports that Apple had drastically cut down component orders for iPhone 5. The said order cut is due to weakening demand for the handset. As previously reported by Apple-centric AppleInsider:
Apple reportedly sent word to suppliers in December that it would be reducing parts orders for the recently released iPhone 5 on “weaker-than-expected” demand, with some orders being cut in half from original expectations.
However, industry pundits have stood by the Cupertino-based company. They even pointed out that the apparent order reduction is due to supply chain management.
Moreover, it was noted that dwindling component orders for iPad could be a sign that Apple is getting ready to launch a new model. In fact, a report from earlier this month speculates that Apple may debut a fifth-generation iPad in March.
Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities also said last week that the next-generation iPad will be “significantly lighter and slimmer.” The tablet is also expected to have a narrow border design, reminiscent of the iPad Mini.