As new competitors, such as the Google Nexus 7 and Microsoft Slate, add to an already competitive tablet market, industry leader Apple will launch its long-rumored iPad mini sometime in September, according to a report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that was picked up on the Apple-centric blog MacRumors. As reported on the site, Apple will debut a 7-inch iPad tablet after a production ramp-up in August, and Kuo said he expects sales of just 1.8 million units in the third quarter, which will balloon to more than 13 million units in the following quarter, overtaking sales of the full-side iPad.
Driven by sales of the iPad mini, Kuo predicted fourth quarter sales of iPad tablets would reach 24 million units. Apple controlled a nearly 63 percent share of the tablet market during the first quarter of this year, according to the NPD Group, and by many accounts is expected to hold on to at least 50 percent of the market through 2016. The analyst report also claimed Apple will be tweaking the internal components of the full size iPad to deal with heat dissipation issues and to reduce production costs, though the changes would be invisible to consumers.
Though shipments of iPad minis components will start in August, the new iPad line will end production, ready for transition to a modified New iPad line. As such, component shipments will drop in August as iPad minis components shipments growth will be offset, the report stated. On a side note, the modified New iPad shares the same exterior as the original model, but contains modifications to correct its thermal dissipation problem and lower-cost components.
Rumor and speculation have long swirled around the possible production of a 7-inch iPad, and, with a March IHS iSuppli report predicting that a 7-inch version of the iPad was being planned for a release during the winter holiday shopping season. The tablet would likely carry a lower price point than that of the 10-inch iPad, which starts at $499, putting it in direct competition with low-cost Google Android tablets.
In the 7-inch tablet market, a sub-$200 price is seen as a key point of entry to success. Pricing for the Nexus 7 starts at $199, which puts Amazons 7-inch Kindle Fire, which also retails for $199, most obviously in its cross hairs. The media-focused Nexus 7which Google says was designed for Google Play, the companys online content portalis likely to also affect sales of Barnes & Nobles 7-inch Nook and Samsungs Galaxy Tab 2 7.0. An iPad mini would also indicate Apple has changed direction since the passing of co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, who was adamant that the company would never delve into the mini-tablet market.