Apple iPad Mini, 2012 iMac Specs Induce Supply Shortage Until 2013 [REPORT]

 @redletterdave
on November 28 2012 11:03 AM
IMac
The new iMac, at its very thinnest point (the edge), is just 5 mm thin, which is 80 percent thinner than the previous generation. The computer itself is also eight pounds lighter than the previous generation. Courtesy/Apple.com

The iPad Mini and 2012 iMac are both very bold design moves for Apple, which took a significant risk in trying to get its supply chains to produce enough to sate the overwhelming demand during the holidays. These supply chains would just be learning how to assemble these new devices as millions of orders pour in from all over the world, and Apple knew that.

As a result, shipments of the iPad Mini and redesigned 2012 iMac are expected to be constrained throughout the rest of 2012, according to DigiTimes.

Citing "industry sources," DigiTimes reported on Tuesday evening that Apple's parts providers won't see a bump in revenue from the iPad Mini or the new iMac -- both the 21.5- and 27-inch models -- until the first quarter of 2013, a result of "mass production issues with the products."

"Mass production of panels used in the iPad Mini has reportedly suffered low yield rates, and backlight module providers have also had a shortage of supplies, which is affecting the amount of iPad Minis that can be shipped in 2012," the sources told DigiTimes.

It's been well-documented that AU Optronics and LG Display, the suppliers of the display for the 7.9-inch iPad Mini, have been having issues meeting the extraordinary amount of demand for this device. LG and AUO collectively shipped 400,000 panels in September ahead of the ramp-up of 1.4 million panels in October, and both promised to ship more than 3.3 million panels in November and 4 million in December.

While LG Display has been capable of providing the proper quantity of panels each month, AUO has reportedly had many difficulties in improving the yield of panels from month-to-month. As a result, the overall shipment proportion of iPad Mini panels from AUO has been reduced from 40 percent to 22 percent. 

The numbers may not quite meet the demands of the holiday season, but LG Display will continue shouldering most of the burden, as Apple hopes to ship at least 10 million iPad Mini units by the end of 2012.

As far as the new iMac goes, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that there were many issues in producing the redesigned desktop during his conference call with investors on Oct. 25, and predicted "significant shortages" through the rest of 2012.

"In terms of general shortages, the iMac will be constrained for the full quarter in a significant way," Cook told investors. "Part of that is that we're beginning shipping the 21.5-inch iMac in November and the 27-inch in December, so there will be a short amount of time during the quarter to manufacture and ramp those, and I expect the demand to be robust. So we will have a significant shortage there."

The cause for the possible delay was said to be the complicated and intensive process used to create each ultra-thin iMac screen. By laminating the display directly to the glass, Apple was able to remove all air gaps from the computer, making the entire display system 45 percent thinner. This process, which is only achieved by welding a system of aluminum under a highly pressurized system, is reportedly a similar process used to assemble aircraft wings, including the Airbus A380.

“This is so thin we wanted to do something even more with it," explained Phil Schiller, Apple's senior VP of marketing, at Apple's Oct. 23 media event. "The way this is welded is called friction stir welding.”

Apple was also able to make the iMac even more "amazingly thin" by removing the computer's optical drive and reengineering the internal components. At its very thinnest point (the edge), the new iMac is just 5 mm thin, which is 80 percent thinner than the previous generation. The desktop also weighs 8 pounds lighter than the previous generation.

Due to these design choices, many originally believed Apple wouldn't ship on time. One news site, the French company MacBidouille, reported that the two redesigned iMacs would be pushed back to 2013, citing a "commercial source." Yet, Apple proved this was wrong on Tuesday, officially announcing that the 2012 iMac would be released this Friday, Nov. 30, avoiding any sort of delay.

But just because Apple will ship the 2012 iMac on time doesn't mean their stores will have enough regularly in stock until 2013. And good luck ordering one of these devices online; the iPad Mini is still listing two-week shipping times, and the 2012 iMac, once that goes live on Apple's site this Friday, will surely see major shipment delays, considering the complicated bonding process needed to create each individual computer.

Apple sold 14 million iPad units and and 4.9 million Macs in Q4 2012.

About The iPad Mini

The iPad Mini, launched Nov. 2, features the same non-Retina resolution as the iPad 2 (1024 x 768), weighs just 0.68 pounds -- as light as a notepad -- and measures just 7.2 mm thick -- roughly the thinness of a pencil.

The iPad Mini is powered by Apple’s dual-core A5 chip, which was “fast” in 2011 but sluggish now compared to the A5X chip, A6 chip and all-new A6X chip introduced over the past year. The iPad Mini doesn’t need a lot of power to function -- the iPad 2 manages just fine with the A5 chip -- but the specs of the iPad 2 simply don’t compare to where technology is currently.

Besides the difference in size, the iPad Mini can do everything a full-sized iPad can do. It still runs on iOS 6, Apple's latest mobile operating system, and is compatible with the new Lightning dock connector. However, even though Apple sells "cellular" models of the iPad Mini, this new smaller tablet does not support the high-speed LTE network.

For the Wi-Fi-only iPad Mini, Apple sells 16GB models for $329, 32GB for $429 and 64GB for $529. For iPad Minis that work on both Wi-Fi and cellular frequencies, Apple sells those models separately at $459 for 16GB, $559 for 32GB and $659 for 64GB.

About The 2012 iMac

The 21.5-inch iMac features a 1920 x 1080 display resolution, and with a new process called "plasma deposition," the screen is 75 percent less reflective than in the previous iMac generation.

As far as storage goes, the iMac can be configured with up to 3TB of storage with a Core i5 or i7 processor, but before they make their purchase, Apple will ask customers to choose between three new storage options: a hard drive for more storage, a SSD for speedy storage, or a third, brand-new option called the "Apple Fusion Drive."

Apple’s new Fusion Drive contains 128 GB of flash storage with 1TB or 3TB HDD, which is fused into a single volume. With access to storage, the new Fusion Drive performs almost as well as Flash, but it keeps documents significantly more secure on the HDD.

“Apple has some logic which figures out which apps you use the most and will shift those to the SDD,” explained Apple's marketing whiz Phil Schiller at the company's Oct. 23 unveiling.

The 21-inch iMac features a 2.7GHz quad-core i5 processor with 8GB of RAM, a GeForce GT 640M and 1TB of HDD. This model, which also comes with two speakers on the bottom sides of the "chin," a 720p HD FaceTime camera and dual microphones, will begin shipping this Friday.

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