Apple reportedly taps Samsung for Retina iPad mini panels due to supply shortage
With the launch of Apple's iPad mini with Retina display on the horizon, rumors of severe supply constraints are aswirl, the latest claiming the situation is so dire that Samsung has been tapped to supply LCDs for the hotly anticipated device.
According to a report from Japan's Nikkei (via CNET), Apple is now looking to rival Samsung for high-resolution 7.9-inch Retina panels, as current manufacturers Sharp and LG Display are having trouble reaching production volumes.
The information comes in part from Japan's largest wireless provider NTT DoCoMo, which is reportedly concerned about expectedly low supply. After years of fighting the iPhone with domestic handsets, DoCoMo was just last month added to Apple's stable of partner carriers, christening the agreement with sales of the iPhone 5s and 5c.
It was reported Wednesday that Sharp was to blame for the rumored iPad mini shortage. The Japanese company is Apple's secondary supplier for the mini's Retina displays, but its share of panel orders is still substantial at a reported 40 percent.
In Friday's report, Nikkei cites a DisplaySearch Japan analyst as saying primary supplier LG Display is also seeing yield issues, and is "not close to full production." Consequently, Apple has been forced to order an unknown number of displays from Samsung, as the Korean tech giant is one of the few companies capable of manufacturing Retina quality panels. Those panels are not likely to arrive until next year, however, meaning supplies could still be tight over the lucrative holiday season.
Analysts have been speculating that Apple would see severe constraints of the smaller iPad for months, and rumors of low LCD panel yields have been circulating since April. In fact, a report from September guessed Apple would delay launching the Retina iPad mini until next year after seeing incredibly low manufacturing volumes.
When asked about the supposed iPad mini constraints during Apple's quarterly conference call on Monday, chief executive Tim Cook said it was "unclear" whether there would be enough supply for the quarter. The company knows how many units are arriving, Cook said, but does not know if that number is enough to satisfy demand.
Apple has yet to announce an official launch date for the mini, instead saying the device will hit store shelves "in November."