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Tuesday, October 23, 2012, 07:27 pm PT (10:27 pm ET)

Initial iPad mini availability may be limited due to issues at display supplier

Even before Apple opens its virtual doors to iPad mini preorders, one analyst claims low yield rates from the company's display makers could put the tablet in short supply ahead of the lucrative holiday shopping season.

NPD DisplaySearch analyst Richard Shim told CNET on Tuesday that one of Apple's two suppliers for the iPad mini's 7.9-inch display is having issues meeting its planned yield rates, effectively leaving only one fully-functioning provider.

iPad mini

Source: Apple


Instead of going with Samsung, formerly Apple's number one display supplier, the iPad maker chose to order parts from LG and AU Optronics. LG shipped 300,000 panels in September, with plans to ramp up production to one million in October, 2.5 million in November, and 3 million in December. AU, however, is seeing trouble with the 7.9-inch panels and only shipped 100,000 in September, ahead of a planned ramp up to 400,000 in October, 800,000 in November, and one million in December.

"We're now starting to see the issues that [Apple] is having with Samsung," Shim said. "The problem is that AUO is a new supplier, and they're not able to get to the volumes that Apple needs. So, essentially, there's just one supplier."

In a blog post, the analyst pointed out that Apple's relatively low price of entry is "expected to appeal to a wider audience and drive up demand. However, panel supply chain indications point to an even more than typical tightness in the market for the iPad Mini."

Apple usually counts on at least two major suppliers to provide displays for hot-selling products. For example, both Samsung and LG took orders for the third-generation iPad.

It remains to be seen what if Apple was able to pump out enough units for a successful launch, but if demand for the iPad mini is as strong as it was for the iPhone 5, an initial stock out would almost be a certainty.