Several supply-chain vendors indicated in the past two weeks that Apple, the world's biggest company by market value, lowered fourth-quarter iPad orders 25 percent, the first such cut that analysts at JPMorgan’s electronic manufacturing services team in Hong Kong said they have ever seen. The report did not list the affected companies.The cut could represent a drop from 17 million units produced in the third quarter to 13 million units in the 4th quarter. The reason for the drop in orders is not explained in the report.
Apple sold 9.25 million iPads during the 2nd calendar quarter, and only caught up with demand in August, so it may be that Apple overestimated the peak demand. Sales numbers for the current quarter have not yet been reported.
There had originally been some speculation that the iPad 3 might launch this fall, but multiple reports have said the iPad 3 will not launch until 2012. Meanwhile, given the poor showing amongst iPad competitors, most expect that the iPad 2 is set to have a "free run" through the 2011 holiday period. The only other major competitor to be launched in this quarter appears to be Amazon who is said to be introducing their own Android-based tablet this week.
Update: Business Insider speculates that the drop in orders could have to do with Apple moving some iPad production from China to Brazil beginning later this year. What that theory fails to address, however, is the fact that the Brazilian production is still being performed by Foxconn/Hon Hai and will almost certainly utilize the same component suppliers used in Chinese-produced iPads, meaning that the shift should have little effect on orders from those supply chain partners.