Apple Pulls Back on iPad 2 Display Orders as iPad 3 Production Begins to Ramp Up
Digitimes reports that Apple has pulled back on its fourth-quarter orders for iPad 2 display panels, although the reduction appears to be part of an overall strategy to prepare for the launch of the iPad 3 early next year rather than a shortfall in customer demand. According to the report, Apple stockpiled components for an extra 4-5 million iPad 2 units during the third quarter, allowing it to reduce its orders for the fourth quarter.
Sales of iPads at the end market totaled 11.12 million units in the third quarter of 2011, according to data released by Apple. However, inventories of parts and components prepared by the makers in the supply chain for the production of iPad 2 in the quarter are sufficient for the production of 15-16 million iPads, leaving a stockpile of 4-5 million units of iPad 2 in the supply chain, the sources noted.
That explanation is in line with claims from analyst Chris Caso following rumors in late September that Apple would be cutting fourth-quarter iPad production. Caso claimed that Apple had "pulled in" production from the fourth quarter to the third quarter, accelerating its manufacturing timetable ahead of the holiday quarter.
The reason for this stockpiling of iPad 2 components appears to be preparations for the iPad 3 launch, as Digitimes also notes that suppliers of both display and touch panels for the iPad 3 have either already begun or will soon begin shipments to Apple.
While Apple is adjusting panel inventory for iPad 2, Samsung and Sharp already began shipping panels for the next-generation iPads to Apple in October, and Taiwan-based touch panel makers TPK Holding and Wintek will begin to ship touch panels for the new iPads to the supply chain in November-December, the sources noted.
The iPad 3 has been rumored to see an early 2012 introduction and is expected to carry a higher-resolution "Retina" display, although display suppliers have been said to be struggling to produce the panels in volume.