By Alexandra Burlacu | Oct 08, 2012 10:19 AM EDT
Apple's suppliers in Asia have reportedly confirmed that they have received more than 10 million orders for the iPad Mini production during the fourth quarter of the current fiscal year.
Rumors of a smaller version of Apple's popular iPad have been making the rounds for a while now, but Apple has remained silent and has not offered any official comment regarding the launch of an iPad Mini.
The latest news that the Cupertino giant has ordered over 10 million units for the fourth quarter comes from the Wall Street Journal, which also reported recently that production has already begun.
According to another report that emerged last week, Apple plans to send out invitations to an exclusive iPad Mini event on October 10. The report suggested the smaller iPad would be announced on Oct. 17 or Oct. 18.
As the WSJ points out, orders of more than 10 million units indicate Apple's confidence that demand for the iPad Mini will be strong, despite tough competition in the market. The figure is roughly double the order placed for Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets in the same quarters, the suppliers told the publication. If Apple does indeed launch an iPad Mini, it will be a direct competitor to Amazon's smaller Kindle tablets, as well as Google's Nexus 7.
Strong consumer demand for Samsung's 5.3-inch Galaxy Note and Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire shows that smaller tablets appeal to consumers. Apple currently offers only 9.7-inch iPads, while the rumored iPad Mini is expected to be a 7.85-inch slate.
"It makes sense for market leader Apple to extend its dominance in tablets with a smaller tablet," said Capital Securities analyst Diana Wu, as cited by the WSJ. RBS analyst Wanli Wang, meanwhile, highlighted the importance of pricing.
"iPad Mini will be a big hit if Apple prices it below $300," noted Wang. Most analysts agree that Apple's main challenge with the smaller tablet will be to price it attractively for it to succeed. Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire HD and Google's 7-inch Nexus 7 both start at a $199 price tag.
Apple still dominates the global tablet market, but its share of the market has been slipping as more Android-based products emerged. According to market research firm IHS iSuppli, Apple's share of the global tablet market was 69.6 percent in the second quarter, down from nearly 84 percent in 2010. Samsung was the second-largest player, with 9.2 percent of the market in the second quarter.
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