Tag: iPad mini

Supply problems surface in Apple's iPad Mini refresh

Apple’s refresh to the iPad Mini – with a suspected HD retina display – will not make it to the shops on time because of problems in the company’s supply chain.

The company is just getting ready to produce the iPad Mini with a retina display, so the tablet is unlikely to be widely available this year, supply chain sources told Reuters. Nonetheless, it’s expected the latest in Apple’s iPad Mini range will be revealed some time this month.

Considering the cheap and cheerful competition from the likes of Google and Amazon, both offering high definition displays, Apple would do well to get this launch right. Both helped jump start a rush to corner the affordable end of the tablet market, and it’s understood Apple is applying pressure on suppliers to keep costs as low as possible. Shipping the device with 8 gigabytes of memory is one option, sources say.

Analysts are warning if there’s no retina screen the company would be shooting itself in the foot.

Although details of the delay are sketchy at best, some whispers suggest there has been trouble certifying panel producers who were told to keep production power friendly. Samsung, Sharp, and LG Display were thought to be after the contract.

Apple may get around its supply problems by launching a limited edition Mini including the retina display before rolling out on a larger scale early next year.

Cost cutting on the next Mini’s bill of materials could be a way to bolster the company’s profits rather than going toe-to-toe with cheaper 7- to 8- inch rivals, comfortable as it is with remaining a manufacturer of high-end products. 

Apple loses bid to trademark yet another word

Apple’s bid to trademark the iPad Mini has failed, quite spectacularly. The US Patents and Trademarks Office kindly told Cupertino lawyers that they cannot have a trademark on “iPad Mini” since the law doesn’t really allow anyone to trademark a description of the product, reports Forbes

However, a few years ago Apple decided to stop innovating and start patent trolling, so common sense and legal standards went out the window. Luckily even the hopelessly broken USPTO still has some dignity and it won’t stand for it.

“The term “MINI” in the applied for mark is also descriptive of a feature of applicant’s product.Specifically, the attached evidence shows this wording means “something that is distinctively smaller than other members of its type or class,” said the USPTO. “The word “mini” has been held merely descriptive of goods that are produced and sold in miniature form.”

In other words, no Apple, not even you can go around patenting words.

Additionally, the USPTO pointed out that even “iPad” can be viewed as a descriptive term rather than a trademarked brand. 

“The term “IPAD” is descriptive when applied to applicant’s goods because the prefix “I” denotes“internet.” According to the attached evidence, the letter “i” or “I” used as a prefix and would be understood by the purchasing public to refer to the Internet when used in relation to Internet-related products or services. Applicant’s goods are identified as “capable of providing access to the Internet”. When a mark consists of this prefix coupled with a descriptive word or term for Internet-related goods and/or services, then the entire mark may be considered merely descriptive.”

The iPad, however, is a registered trademark of Apple in the US, along with rounded rectangles and various UI features and designs. The fact that most of them have been around for years didn’t seem to bother the USPTO in the past. Perhaps it just got sick and tired of Apple trying to patent vowels and descriptive terms like “mini”. 

Sharp sharply reduces iPad screen output

Sharp has apparently all but halted production of 9.7-inch screens for Apple’s iPad. Reuters reports that two sources confirmed the slowdown.

Sharp reduced production at its Kameyama plant to minimal levels needed to keep it running. The slowdown began in late 2012 as Apple tried to manage its inventory, according to the sources.

Apple and Sharp refused to comment on the report, but Reuters argues that the move is indicative of seasonal changes in demand as well as the impact of the iPad mini. It appears more consumers are choosing the mini over traditional 9.7-inch iPads.

Macquaire Research estimates shipments of 9.7-inch iPads will tumble almost 40 percent in Q1, from 13 to 8 million. However, the decrease should not have a significant effect on overall sales figures, as iPad mini sales remain strong. Analysts estimate Apple’s Q3 iPad shipments at 14 million units.

The report is the last thing Apple needs at this point. Its shares already dropped below $500 earlier this week, on reports that it is curbing orders for iPhone 5 components.

We are also seeing a torrent of rumours pointing to a cheaper version of the iPhone, designed for emerging markets. Just a few months ago overly optimistic analysts were expecting Apple to hit $1,000 by the end of 2012. In reality, Wall Street is starting to look beyond the hype and the focus is shifting to more gloomy problems facing the company in the long term.

Although Cupertino enjoys a cultish following and brand loyalty was never in question, strong iPad mini sales seem to indicate that traditional Apple consumers are open to cheaper gear. With that in mind, a plastic iPhone could make sense, but it would come at a price, as it would inevitably eat into iPhone 5/5S sales, much like the iPad mini.

iPad Mini heads for youth in Asia

Apple’s hopes that a cheaper version of its iPad might sell well in Asia floundered after its fanboys failed to turn up and buy it.

While Apple’s technology has done well in Asia, with kids prepared to sell a kidney to get one, it appears that the the roll out of the iPad Mini is not generating the same hype as in the past.

Instead of long queues and riots only a handful of Apple fans lined up in several Asian cities to get their hands on the iPad Mini.

It seems that customers did the math and looked at the spec and the fact that the toy was priced above rival gadgets from Google and Amazon.com and stayed at home.

According to Reuters, similar scenes were noted in Australia. Only 50 people waited for the Apple store in Sydney, Australia, to open, where in the past the line had stretched for several blocks.

Those who were in the queue really did not know what they were buying. For example,  Patrick Li thought that the smaller tablet, with poorer graphics, was better than the original iPad. We guess he thought that because it was new it must be better.

The huge Apple store in Tokyo managed to have 100 or more outside but staff at the Hong Kong store appeared to outnumber those waiting in line.

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster who normally claims that Apple gear will sell trillions said that Apple will likely sell between 1 million and 1.5 million iPad Minis in the first weekend, far short of the 3 million third-generation iPads sold last March in their first weekend.

He blames the lack of the wireless option and newness of the smaller form factor for consumers. He thinks that users will get used to this.

Amazon slams iPad Mini in public ad

As competition between tablets makers hots up, Amazon has thumbed its nose at the iPad Mini in its latest advert for its own 7 inch tablet, picking apart claims by Apple.

In a new advert for the Kindle Fire HD, Amazon puts its own tablet up against Apple’ newly launched devices in full-on sparring mode, under the banner “much more for much less”.  

Amazon didn’t miss its chance to highlight one of the main differences between the two devices, namely the price tag, proudly displaying $199 in large type for the Kindle Fire HD, compared to $329 for the iPad Mini.  

As well as claiming that the Kindle Fire HD has 30 percent more pixels than the slightly larger iPad Mini, Amazon took a swipe at its rival by posting a comment from gadget news website Gizmodo: “Your [Apple’s] 7.9 inch tablet has far fewer pixels than the competing 7 inch tablets! You’re cramming a worse screen in there, changing more, and accusing others of compromise? Ballsy.”

The advert claims that the Apple device cannot handle HD pictures as its own can, and also makes some noise about superior wi-fi connectivity and improved speakers.

Of course, Apple is guilty of its own name-calling as the fight for share of the smaller tablet market gets increasingly catty, proving that it is more than up for a bit of sniping at its competitors.

At the launch of the iPad Mini, the Cupertino company addressed the challenge that Apple faced from competitors which have already released 7 inch tablets such as Google and Amazon.   Marketing boss Phil Schiller contemptuously described its rival’s efforts as having “failed miserably” in producing a tablet equal to those produced by Apple.

Schiller levelled criticisms at its competition, throwing in barbs about screen size and bezels, lamenting the woeful attempts to chip away at the iPad’s dominance.   

However, we imagine Amazon bosses were rubbing their hands when they subsequently announced that – on the day after Apple’s release – the Kindle Fire HD achieved record sales, according to AllThingsD.

iPad Mini in supply chain gamble

Apple may have announced its latest product to its adoring followers, but analysts are wary that consumers may be waiting longer than usual to get hold of the iPad Mini due to supply concerns.

As was widely predicted, Apple announced a smaller iPad device, costing £269 in the UK, as well as a new iPad 4 and refreshes in its notebook and PC ranges.

However, with demand likely to be high for the new devices, particularly the cheaper Mini tablets, panel supplies are expected to be even more constrained than usual.

According to DisplaySearch, Apple has changed up its supply chain for the Mini, continuing to work with LG Display, which will supply to Apple’s Taiwanese manufacturing partner Foxconn, and adding a new supplier to its chain, AUO, which provides panels to Pegatron.

According to reports in the run up to the Mini, manufacturing will be split roughly equally between the two manufacturers, with AUO likely to take up to 60 percent of the production as it effectively takes the place of Samsung.

With the ongoing fight with Samsung over intellectual property, Apple started dissolving its relationship with the former ally, leaving the firm with limited options.  Samsung had previously been a reliable partner and Apple is now having to deal with an altered supply chain.

Analysts point out AUO has had yield problems with its 7.9 inch panels. These production problems are resulting in tightened supply to Pegatron which is tasked with putting the final touches to the devices. 

This means that in September, AUO shipped just over 100,000 units, a third of what Apple’s other supplier for the Mini, LG Display, managed in the same month.  

Tightened supply could continue for some time.  AUO’s production plan is to churn out 400,000 units in October, 800,000 in November, and reach the 1 million mark in December.  In contrast, LG Display will be shipping 1 million in October, 2.5 million in November, and 3 million the following month.

Apple will hope to shift a serious amount of the upcoming devices, but sales are still limited to what Apple and its supply chain can actually produce – and without Samsung this number is potentially lowered.

Reports in the Korea Times earlier this week show that the deteriorating relationship between the pair means that, in addition to not providing displays for the Mini, Samsung, already getting edged out of chip production, is likely to be given the elbow on all future display production.

Samsung had previously been the top supplier to Apple for LCDs used in its range of PC and mobile devices, shipping 15 million units in the first six months of the year.  However this figure is thought to have dropped to  3 million during the third quarter, with expectations that it will drop to 1.5 million in the fourth. 

Presumably others such as LG Display, Sharp and AUO will see increased orders to compensate, however, even Sharp has been having problems producing enough screens for the iPhone 5 in the run up to the Christmas period.

A company that intentionally puts the squeeze on supply to manufacture hype, Apple may find itself in a real quandary sooner than it would like.

Those iPad Mini rumours described in full

Apple stunned us with at its iPhone 5: a superfast supercool smartphone nine times the length of the last model, sporting an innovative map feature which turned getting from A to B into the kind of surprising and fun adventure only a brand such as Apple could offer. The latest rumours are that Apple’s iPad Mini could be announced this month, the long awaited sequel to the last sequel’s sequel, and we just can’t wait. Here’s a roundup of our favourite rumours so far:

– 12800 x 243 RESOLUTION The iPhone 5 threw a curveball when it changed the display so drastically, but, after the positive critical reception, Apple insiders have suggested Cupertino is going half a step further. By using a 12800 x 243 resolution, iPad Mini will completely redefine the apps we have been using and know and love, energising the user experience of every single one.

– FART ACTIVATED SEARCH Siri was a big hit. The feature would answer any question you could throw at it, often with the wrong answers, challenging the user to engage his or her own brain and initiative and truly buy into what the Apple brand advocates: *individuality*, the get-up-and-go, can-do spirit of the modern American. According to the rumour mill, the clue for iPad Mini is in the name – Siri, in Japanese, an important market for Apple, means ‘rump, ass, or bottom’. With iPad Mini, users will be able to pass wind into Smeli, the gas-activated satisfaction assistant, which will then automagically tell you how pleased you are.

– RELATIVELY CHEAPER THAN EVER Although early whisperings suggest iPad Mini will come in at just under $4,000, we’ve heard initial pricing of $6, – $7,000 for the 1GB edition. Apple really will be redefining exclusivity as the bargain bin prices of Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7 are picked up by the poor proles who can’t afford Apple. We can hear the jealousy now!

– COOL CAMERA EFFECTS iPhone 5 introduced a cool purple hue to thousands of iPhone 5s registered in a secret lottery. Those lucky enough to enjoy iPhone’s unique filtering effects will be stoked to hear iPad Mini is tipped for more of the same. Rather than just one cool colour filter, Apple will be introducing them all at once, and although this rainbow of innovation may feel different at first, we’re sure this feature will be another game-changing paradigm shift that outpaces and transcends the traditional clear-lens functions of those copy-cats at Android. Walt Mossberg was rumoured to have been overheard saying: “It’s like taking off a new pair of glasses for the first time”

– LANDLINE ACTIVATED PHONE CALLS We got a taste of this in iPhone 4 when users complained about a feature that dropped telephone calls – thereby potentially saving thousands on the monthly bill. With iPad Mini, like the iPads before it, you can’t make phonecalls, but it can wirelessly connect to iPhone 5 through iCloud to communicate that, if you must make a call, you may look up the nearest phone box on Apple’s new map software. 

– NEARER FIELD COMMUNICATION The technology press has been talking about the dated Near Field Communication for some time now – which has applications such as quickly paying for products or services simply by passing your phone over a receiving surface. With Nearer Field Communication, Mini iPad automatically charges your debit card whenever it is in the same room, giving users the unique opportunity to generate a great credit rating, quickly.

– INNOVATIVE iNDIVIDUALITY Everyone knew from day one that the i in iPod stood for I. The world remembers its excitement when Apple extended the concept of individuality from the simple pod through to the phone, and most recently, the pad. iPad MiNi is three times as individual.