The first batch of iPad Mini tablets, the 7-inch device Apple introduced earlier this week, sold out quickly, based on the company’s Website, which swapped out the shipment date of Nov. 2 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 Nov. 2. 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 have to have 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 Nov. 21 with expedited shipping. The LTE-ready version starts at $459, while the WiFi-only iPad Mini starts at $329. The much-hyped tablet was formally unveiled Oct. 23 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 issues keeping up with demand for the iPad Mini. As recently as Oct. 24—the day after the iPad Mini was unveiled, an NPD DisplaySearch report by Senior Analyst Richard Shim, said that although Apple is expanding its partner 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 British newspaper The Telegraph quoted Apple CEO Tim Cook as saying during an investor call that the rumor 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 rumors, 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.