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Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo with KGI Securities revealed to AppleInsider on Monday that Samsung was the sole supplier of iPad Retina displays to Apple in the first quarter of 2012. That's consistent with earlier reports, but also reveals that only Samsung was able to provide high-resolution screens to Apple for the entirety of the quarter.
In fact, it's likely that Samsung is still the only iPad Retina display supplier. Kuo said LG Display is expected to begin providing screens in the second quarter of calendar 2012, but did not indicate that Sharp has actually begun providing displays.
Even when LG does enter the supply chain, Samsung will remain the main supplier of Retina displays for the new iPad, Kuo said. Companies outside of Samsung have struggled to reliably build the new screens, which pack in more pixels than a 1080p high-definition television.
While LG is expected to begin supplying screens for the new iPad this quarter, Kuo said that Apple's other main display provider, Sharp, won't be able to build iPad Retina displays at a "normal rate" until the third quarter of 2012.
"Sharp Still has production yield and material stability issues unresolved due to the adoption of Oxide technology," Kuo wrote in a research note.
Kuo believes that constrained supply of the new iPad resulted in sales of 13.1 million units last quarter. However, last week there was a sign that availability of the new iPad is improving, when advertised shipping times from Apple shortened to just 5 to 7 days.
Kuo expects sales of 18.6 million total iPad units in the second quarter of calendar 2012, as supply improves and Retina display production ramps up.
He also offered commentary on the so-called "iPad mini," a rumored device with a 7.85-inch screen that has been the subject of considerable discussion recently. Kuo said he believes such a device could launch early in the fourth quarter of 2012, allowing it to go on sale ahead of the holiday buying season.