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Apple to slash iPad Mini shipments, claims report

iPad Mini shipments to retailers will reportedly be cut to as few as 10 million for the second quarter, according to DigiTimes.

Apple's iPad Mini.
Apple's iPad Mini.

Apple will reportedly trim iPad Mini shipments for the next quarter, according to tech-news site DigiTimes.

Citing industry sources who provide parts for the tablet," Taiwan-based DigiTimes claims that iPad Mini shipments for the second quarter will fall to between 10 million and 12 million units. The cut may be as high as 20 percent in April and then decline slightly throughout the rest of the quarter, the sources said.

DigiTimes' sources further claim that Apple recently adjusted this year's shipment estimates for the iPad and iPad Mini to 33 million and 55 million, respectively.

If the claims are true -- and that's a big if given DigiTimes' hit-and-miss track record -- why would Apple cut shipments of its most popular tablet?

The sources offered two possible explanations.

Apple could be prepping the next-generation iPad Mini for launch in the third quarter. In January, KGI Securites analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who's usually on the money, projected a third-quarter release for both the iPad Mini 2 and the iPad 5. Companies typically cut shipments of an existing product in advance of a new model.

But the sources also said the decline in Mini shipments could be the result of greater competition from 7-inch Android tablets.

The iPad Mini has been a hot seller. Together with the iPhone 5, the Mini awarded Apple with a 20.3 percent share of all connected devices in the fourth quarter and a 30.7 percent share of all revenue for such devices, IDC said this week. The iPad Mini has even cannibalized sales from the fourth-gen iPad, say many analysts.

Still, Apple has seen its share of the tablet market dwindle due to the onslaught of rival devices running Google's mobile OS. IDC expects 49 percent of all tablets shipped this year to be Android devices, leaving 46 percent for the iPad.

The reported drop in iPad Mini shipments could easily be a combination of both factors. Or it could simply be business as usual, assuming the drop isn't too severe.

Apple has faced questions in the past over cuts in shipments and component orders. In a January conference call about Apple's fiscal first-quarter results, CEO Tim Cook challenged the accuracy of supply chain rumors, saying that Apple has "multiple sources" for product components.

"Yields can vary, supplier performance can vary," Cook said, according to MacRumors. "There is an inordinate long list of things that can make any single data point not a great proxy for what is going on."

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