An iPad Christmas, Sure, but Will It Be a Retina iPad Mini Christmas?
I think it’s going to be an iPad Christmas.
— Apple CEO Tim Cook, Oct. 28, 2013
Discussing Apple’s fourth-quarter earnings during a Monday conference call with analysts, CEO Tim Cook sounded less than confident about being able to meet demand for the second-generation mini, which was dogged by rumors of supply constraints even before it was announced and unveiled last week, uncharacteristically, without a firm launch date.
“In terms of the iPad mini with Retina display, we’ll start shipping later in November,” Cook said. “It’s unclear whether we will have enough for the quarter or not. We know how many we will have, but you really don’t know the demand until after you start shipping, and so we’ll see how that goes. … It’s very difficult to forecast exactly when supply and demand will balance there.”
Hard not to read that as an allusion to possible shortages. Though, to be fair, it’s impossible for Cook or Apple to predict just what kind of demand there will be for the new mini — more so, given the wild cards with this launch.
Recall that Apple will continue to sell the first-generation mini alongside the second at a new $299 price point. And keep in mind that the light weight of the new iPad Air may complicate the buying choices of consumers for whom the purchase of a second-generation iPad mini was once a sure thing (it has certainly done that for me).
If you were looking at that new mini as a one-handed tablet solution, Apple has essentially provided you with a second option in the Air. And if you were planning to buy the fifth-generation iPad for its Retina display and 64-bit A7 chip, you now have the option of buying the new mini, which features them both. It, too, is a top-of-the-line device, and at a slightly less expensive price point.
That muddies the waters a bit. And it probably makes it tougher to forecast exactly when supply and demand will balance, as Cook said.
So it’s going to be interesting to see what happens to iPad sales these next few months. There’s little doubt that Apple will sell a ton of iPads this quarter. But it’s an open question as to which new addition to the line will sell better.