The first batch of Apple’s iPad Mini tablets appears to have sold out just a few minutes after going on sale, while a version with 4G LTE may be coming sooner than expected
The first batch of iPad Mini tablets, the 7-inch device Apple introduced last week, sold out quickly, based on indications from the company’s website, where the initial shipment date of 2 November was changed just 20 minutes after the tablets went on sale, according to multiple reports.
The black version of the device is still listed as shipping by 2 November. The white iPad Mini, which is available in 16 GB, 32 GB and 64 GB models, is now expected to ship two weeks past the order date. Those who want the white version must now mentally prepare for waiting hours in line to snag one at an Apple retail store.
A report in the Apple-centric blog 9to5Mac suggests Apple may also start shipping iPad Mini tablets with 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) wireless connectivity sooner than expected, arriving to customers on 21 November with express shipping.
The LTE-ready version starts at $459 (£285), while the Wi-Fi-only iPad Mini starts at $329. The much-hyped tablet was formally unveiled on 23 October after years of speculation as to whether Apple, whose full-size iPad tablet dominates the market, would venture into territory – the 7-inch tablet space – successfully exploited by lower-priced tablets offered by Amazon and Google.
Preceding the launch, unconfirmed reports suggested Apple could have difficulties keeping up with demand for the iPad Mini. As recently as 24 October – the day after the iPad Mini was unveiled – an NPD DisplaySearch report by Senior Analyst Richard Shim said that although Apple is expanding its supplier base for the iPad Mini, issues with the display panel would limit initial shipments. As the sellout of white iPad Mini tablets suggests, demand appears robust.
A recent IHS report said the iPad Mini could help the 7-inch tablet market double in size in 2012 and 2013. IHS noted that the report’s projections were conservative figures that could be affected not only by demand for a smaller Apple tablet, but how well Apple would be able to meet demand. Expected high demand for the Apple tablets in Asia could also drive sales to extraordinary levels. However, continued supply-chain issues could affect Apple’s ability to put iPad Mini tablets in the hands of willing customers.
The company took the opportunity this week to defend a slowdown in sales of the full-size iPad, which features a 9.7-inch screen. At the same press event where the iPad Mini was unveiled, Apple also debuted its fourth-generation iPad, which will still start at $499.
A report in The Telegraph quoted Apple chief executive Tim Cook as saying during an investor call that the rumour mill was to blame for slower-than-expected growth in iPad sales. “It’s clear that customers delay purchases of tablets due to new product rumours, and these intensified in August and September,” Cook was quoted as saying.
Apple’s domination of the tablet market – a 68 percent share of the worldwide tablet market by IDC’s count – has weakened as lower-priced competitors, such as Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, as well as other competitors with Google Android-based devices, have flooded the market. Competition is only expected to intensify, with Microsoft’s Surface tablet wading into the fray and updated tablet models from Google expected to appear in the coming weeks.
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Originally published on eWeek.