A cheaper iPad Mini 'expected,' says Citi

There is a marked "shift" at Apple toward building less-expensive devices, including an iPad Mini that may be priced below the current $329 model, says Citi Research.

An iPad Mini below $250?
An iPad Mini below $250?

The iPad Mini is already cheap at $329. But Apple is expected to go even lower, according to a report out Tuesday from Citi Research.

Ciit's Glen Yeung said in a note to investors that Apple is shifting toward more inexpensive products.

"Supply chain checks by Citi's Asia-Pac Technology Team suggest a mix shift surprisingly toward Apple's older iPhone4/4S," he wrote.

Then added. "And with our expectation of a low-end iPhone slated for September launch, followed by a sub-$250 iPad Mini, we expect this trend to persist."

While there has been plenty of speculation about a cheaper iPhone, an iPad Mini priced below $250 hasn't been a hot topic. More ink has been devoted to anticipation of a Retina version of the iPad Mini.

The Citi note mentions a comment by Apple Chief Operating Officer Peter Oppenheimer to back up the expected shift to cheaper devices, including the Mini. "We are managing the business for the long term and are willing to trade off short-term profits where we see long-term potential," Oppenheimer said during the most recent earnings conference call.

More details about "mixing to the low-end" were also provided in the note. "September quarter...low-end iPhone (15 million units) & iPhone4/4S (10M) volume, will likely meet or exceed that of iPhone5S (10M) and iPhone5 (5M)."

Citi sees this increased emphasis on more inexpensive devices as inevitable. "We detect [a]...pattern to lower-end mix that we view as part of a natural and inevitable trend for Apple and indeed the entire mobile device industry."

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