iPad Pro hit by production issues, says analyst

Sales are still expected to reach up to 2.6 million units by year's end, says KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
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The iPad Pro features a 12.9-inch screen, which is considerably larger than its next-biggest counterpart, the 9.7-inch display on the iPad Air and Air 2.


Apple's new iPad Pro is suffering from production problems, though they're apparently not taking much of a bite out of sales, according to one analyst.

Released last week, the iPad Pro is being affected by two production woes, KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said on Tuesday in an investors note seen by blog site AppleInsider.

First, Sharp is not ramping up quickly enough to meet Apple's needs for the device's 12.9-inch screen. Second, manufacturing of the new Apple Pencil, a stylus for writing and drawing on the tablet, is not going as smoothly as planned.

On the plus side, even though Sharp is currently the only supplier of the iPad Pro's screen, Samsung is expected to step in to boost production, Kuo said. The analyst also anticipates the production of the Pencil will improve as the assembly process works out kinks.

The iPad Pro's screen is much larger than the 9.7 inch display of its next-biggest siblings, the iPad Air and Air 2, so some initial production troubles wouldn't be unusual. Apple's tablet sales have been dwindling, though, and the company is counting on the Pro to win over new customers in both the consumer and business arenas. Any potential lost sales hurt that aim.

Apple faces competition from other big-screen tablet makers as well. Enjoying healthy demand for its Surface Pro series, Microsoft late last month released the Surface Pro 4 with a 12.3-inch screen. Like the iPad Pro, the Surface Pro starts life as a tablet but can turn into a laptop via a separate keyboard. On Friday, Samsung will release its 18.4-inch Galaxy View , though it designed more as an alternative television than a tablet, per se.

The wait time to receive an iPad Pro from Apple varies from a few days to a couple of weeks depending on which model you choose. Order a silver edition with Wi-Fi only and 32 gigabytes of storage, and you'll get it in three business days. Opt for the same model but in space gray, and you'll have to wait anywhere from one and a half to two weeks. Outfit your tablet with 128GB of storage, and you won't see it at your doorstep for a good two and a half weeks. You can decrease your wait time, but you'd have to pay for expedited shipping.

The production troubles and the wait for certain models apparently aren't having a huge impact on sales, according to Kuo.

The analyst said the iPad Pro is off to a "decent" start with Apple likely to sell anywhere from 2.4 million to 2.6 million units in the current quarter. That number is forecast to drop to 2.1 million to 2.3 million units during the first three months of 2016. But post-holiday sales usually take a nosedive, and that drop is the smallest one estimated for Apple's entire lineup of devices, Kuo added.

Apple did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.