Rumor: LG, Sharp & AUO gearing up to build displays for Apple's next iPad mini

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Three key display suppliers are allegedly preparing for production of Apple's next iPad later this year, with LG Display and Sharp said to already have been selected, while AU Optronics is hoping to get into the mix.

The rumor was reported on Friday by hit-or-miss DigiTimes, which claimed that Apple's next-generation iPad mini will launch in either the late third quarter or fourth quarter of calendar 2013. That's on target with earlier rumors, as well as comments from Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook that new products won't debut until this fall.

Friday's report was mostly about AU Optronics, or AUO. The company has reportedly "faced issues" in producing iPad mini display panels, which have left it unknown as to whether AUO will continue being a major supplier to Apple.

The report, which cited the publication's typical — and frequently unreliable — supply chain sources in Taiwan, said it's "not expected" that AUO will remain a major iPad mini panel supplier. However, the company is said to have submitted panels for use in the next iPad mini for certification by Apple.

AUO must await Apple's approval, the report indicated, but LG Display and Sharp have already been selected as panel suppliers. The report did not give any indication as to whether the next iPad mini will have a high-resolution Retina display.

In preparation for the second-generation iPad mini, Apple is expected to draw down production of the current model. Accordingly, the report claimed that AUO panel shipments are to be drawn down over the coming quarters, and will decrease sequentially.