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When Tim Cook was Apple's COO his tight control of the supply chain was legendary in the tech industry, but now the company is reportedly facing problems sourcing the components needed for its next generation of tiny iPads.

Multiple sources have told Reuters that the widely-expected iPad mini with a Retina display, something fans of Apple's teeny fondleslab have been raising their voices for, is facing a shortage of screens. This could delay the full rollout of the device until early next year, after the lucrative holiday season.

Part of the problem for Apple is that it came late to the seven-inch fondleslab party and other manufacturers like Google and Amazon have tied up production facilities for their own hardware. But Apple has also set tough power-saving benchmarks that aren't being reached by manufacturers, and this too has hampered supply, the sources said.

According to one source, Apple also is considering a budget iPad Mini with just 8GB of storage to help it compete on price terms with other fondleslab firms. This would give the device appeal in markets like China, but so far Apple has shown little inclination to discount heavily – as shown with the relatively high price of the iPhone 5c plastic handset.

"Don't expect the prices to be significantly lower," one source told Reuters. "Even though Apple aims to cut down on component costs, it still ends up around the same as the current Mini because the new Mini will have upgraded specifications."

Those technical specifications are likely to include a major processor upgrade, according to a report by veteran Apple watcher and KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. He is predicting that the new full-sized iPad and its Retinal mini counterpart will be running the same silicon – Apple's 64-bit A7X processor.

This could give Apple a valuable boost in processing power, although not as much as you might expect, since the 32-bit code that makes up so much of its apps won’t see too much of a benefit. As more 64-bit applications come online, however, this could provide yet another reason for Apple users to look smug.

So far, the rumor mill suggests Apple will be making its big iPad upgrades announcement later this month, and of course the company doesn’t comment on speculation. But it looks like fanbois will have to wait a while before getting their paws on the latest and greatest Apple kit. ®

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