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Panel production problems may stop iPad Minis getting into fans' mitts

Researcher warns of supply chain strains

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Woe to you, Apple fanboy, you may not be able to get your hands on a shiny new iPad Mini because Apple may not be able to ship enough of them to go round.

So says DisplaySearch, a market watcher, which reckons supply will be constrained by LCD panel makers’ inability to sent enough 8.9in, 1024 x 768 screens to Apple.

Screen supply limits are commonplace, but DisplaySearch said its observations of the panel supply chain “point to an even more than typical tightness in the market for the iPad Mini”.

Says the researcher: “Apple will continue to work with LG Display, which is supplying panels to Foxconn for the finished product, and is adding AUO, which will supply panels to Pegatron. However, AUO is having yield issues with the 7.9in panel which is limiting their supply.”

In September, AUO shipped just over 100,000 units, DisplaySearch calculates, a quarter of the 400,000 units it expects to ship this month and a lot less than the 800,000 units it has said it will ship in November. A million more are set to go out in December.

Meanwhile, “LG Display shipped 300,000 panels in September, and plans to ship one million in October, 2.5 million in November, and three million in December”.

That’s 9.1m panels in all, but not all will make into iPad Minis that actually arrive in punters’ hands by the end of the year. And it assumes that the display makers ship as many panels as they hope to.

And, of course, that punters settle for the non-retina screen and high price when there are cheaper 7in tablets out there with better screens.

But for their increasingly bitter fight, Apple might have gone to Samsung, which was able to supply it with plenty of iPad and iPad 2 screens until LG Display began contributing them too, the latter picking up the extra orders a sales of the tablet ramped up. Apple, then, appears to be suffering from falling out with a manufacturer of Samsung’s size and capability. ®

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