Retina iPad Mini facing delays, may not launch until early next year

By Alexandra Burlacu | Oct 02, 2013 10:59 AM EDT

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Apple is expected to launch a new iPad Mini that would boast a Retina display, but a new report now claims the release will be delayed.

Previous rumors suggested that the new iPad Mini would make its much-awaited debut in October, rocking a high-resolution Retina display. If the latest news proves to be true, consumers will have to wait a bit longer for the new Apple mini tablet.

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"Apple Inc will be unable to widely roll out a new version of the iPad Mini with a high-resolution 'retina' display this month, people who work in the company's supply chain said, leaving the gadget without the sharper screen found on rival tablets from Google Inc and Inc," reads a new exclusive Reuters report.

According to the news outlet, Apple's supply chain is "only now gearing up to make retina displays for the iPad Mini." If this proves to be true, the iPad Mini will either not launch this year or, if it does, it will be available only in limited quantities. Either way, this could mean a big hit for Apple, as the company would not manage to cash in on the very lucrative holiday shopping season.

The tablet market is becoming increasingly competitive and Apple's rivals are wasting no time, raising the bar in terms of specs and launching devices with lower prices.

There is not much information available regarding the new features the new iPad Mini would bring, but the higher-resolution display is a must for many.

"If they don't put in retina ...there will be howls," said Forrester analyst Frank Gillett, as cited by Reuters.

Apple made a lot of fuss when it first introduced its "resolutionary" Retina display, describing it as resolution that is detailed enough for the human eye not to detect pixelation.

The company has not provided any comments regarding its plans for future product launches, which include the next-generation iPad Mini. It also remains unclear at this point why manufacturing the Retina screens for the new iPad Mini was delayed. One of Reuters' sources speculated that Apple faced delays in certifying panel producers, which had strict power-saving requirements. The supply chain sources further told the publication that LG Display, Samsung's display unit and Sharp were all competing to make the panels.

If Apple's supply chain has just now started gearing up to make the Retina displays for the next-generation iPad Mini, the device would not launch in large volumes until early next year. According to the insiders, Apple may choose to either wait until early 2014 to launch the Retina iPad Mini properly, or make a Retina version of the tablet available only in limited quantities by the end of the year and plan a full-fledged launch afterwards.

In an interesting twist, Apple has also instructed suppliers to reduce costs, said two of the sources. One tipster told Reuters that the company is even mulling over the possibility of launching an 8GB iPad Mini in order to lower the price tag.

"Right now the iPad Mini is more expensive than everyone else in the 7- to 8-inch tablet segment," said Taipei-based Fubon Securities analyst Arthur Liao. "If it could reduce its price by even just $50, it would appeal to more consumers."

Lowering the price tags of its iDevices would surely make Apple more competitive and attract more buyers. The recently-launched iPhone 5C was widely expected to debut as a budget-friendly iPhone, with a more affordable price tag. Apple did indeed launch the smartphone with a cheaper plastic casing instead of a metal body, but the iPhone 5C is definitely not the cheap iPhone everyone was expecting. This will likely be the case with the next iPad Mini as well. Apple may be looking to reduce costs, but don't expect the tablet to be much more accessible in terms of pricing.  



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