First, the white edition of Apple’s much-hyped, much-debated iPad Mini tablet sold out during the preorder period, and now it appears the black version of the iPad Mini has also sold out, with shipment dates for both models now pushed two weeks back from the initial Nov. 2 shipment dates. Apple’s white products typically generate higher demand, but the sell-out of both editions suggests that despite a higher-than-expected $329 starting price, consumers really want to get their hands on an iPad Mini.
Some critics scoffed at the starting point, which is at least $100 more than the start price for much of the rest of the 7-inch tablet market. Rivals like Google’s Nexus 7 tablet ($199) and Amazon’s Kindle Fire ($159), while perhaps lacking the design finesse and build quality of the iPad Mini, have tapped into a market where low prices seem to be as much a factor as a smaller form. However, a recent IHS report said the iPad Mini could help the 7-inch tablet market double in size in 2012 and 2013, if Apple could provide enough iPad Mini tablets to meet market demand.
It is an open question as to whether or not Apple will be able to keep up with demand for the iPad Mini. Preceding the launch, unconfirmed reports suggested Apple could experience supply-chain issues regarding the display component. 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. A higher-than-average price point for the iPad Mini could also prevent Apple from reaching the widest audience possible, but with its foot now firmly planted in the 7-inch tablet space, and the full-size iPad still commanding nearly 70 percent of the worldwide tablet market, Apple’s position is undoubtedly robust.
A note from Canaccord Genuity analyst Michael Walkley estimated that in 2013, Apple would sell 101.6 million tablets, compared with Samsung, which is expected to sell 8.4 million tablets, and Amazon, which is forecast to sell 10.7 million tablets.
“With the impressive refresh of the fourth-generation Retina iPad and launch of the iPad Mini earlier this week, we anticipate very strong holiday-quarter iPad sales. In fact, with Apple’s decisions to price the iPad Mini at a $170 discount to similar fourth generation iPad SKUs and competitively priced versus lower-priced competing products from Google and other Android OEMs, we anticipate strong sales of the iPad Mini, especially as gifts during the holiday quarter,” Walkley wrote. “Further, we believe the iPad Mini significantly expands Apple’s tablet addressable market internationally and should lead to strong sales throughout  as international distribution increases.”
In the battle for tablet market share, Amazon this week took the fight to Apple, posting a comparison ad titled “Much More for Much Less” on its home page, touting the features on the Kindle Fire HD that can’t be found on the iPad Mini, most notably a higher-resolution screen, which it says has 30 percent more pixels than its Apple competitor. The Kindle Fire HD also boasts two speakers to the iPad Mini’s single speaker and a $199 starting price, making it $130 less than the cheapest iPad Mini.