Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) second-generation iPad mini with Retina display, which is said to be much faster than the original iPad mini thanks to its new 64-bit A7 chip, is expected to see remarkable growth in shipments over the next few months, according to an analyst.
Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said in a research note obtained by Apple Insider that shipments of the new Retina iPad mini are expected to increase at the expense of the iPad Air's market share, and added that Apple could also discontinue the iPad 2 in the first quarter of 2014.
According to Kuo, the revamped fifth-generation iPad Air, coupled with "higher-than-expected" sales of the latest iPad mini, will help overall iPad shipments to hit 23.1 million units in the fourth quarter of this year. And, in the first quarter of 2014, the Retina iPad mini is likely to achieve a 102 percent quarter-on-quarter growth with 4.5 million units shipped.
However, some earlier reports have expressed concerns that Apple might be facing supply constraints on display panels for the Retina iPad mini, and have speculated that this could be the reason for the device's quiet launch on Tuesday.
As for the iPad Air, Kuo said that the device’s shipments could decrease by about 4.5 million units in the next quarter due to cannibalization from the Retina iPad mini, which he called the “structural challenges” to the tablet sector.
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According to Kuo, although overall iPad shipments are likely to increase 64 percent quarter-on-quarter during the holiday season, the number is expected to drop in the beginning of 2014 due to seasonality and sluggish sales of the iPad Air.
Here is a table, showing iPad shipment forecasts by KGI Securities:
“We think current tablet products can, generally, sufficiently meet entertainment needs. As they are very cheap already, lowering prices won't effectively stimulate demand,” Apple Insider quoted Kuo as saying. “Only new applications, which will bring about new growth momentum, will be able to solve the structural problems the sector faces.”
International Data Corporation, or IDC, reported last month that Apple’s worldwide market share in tablets dropped to 29.6 percent -- its lowest share to date -- in the third quarter from 40.2 percent during the same period last year. However, IDC also expects the company to strengthen its market position with “robust shipment growth during the fourth quarter.”
Meanwhile, the first benchmark scores of the iPad mini with Retina display surfaced online on Tuesday, revealing that the device’s A7 chip clocks at 1.29GHz, while the iPad Air clocks at 1.39GHz with a marginal edge in performance over its new and smaller counterpart.
According to the new Geekbench 3 benchmarks, the Retina iPad mini scored 1390 and 2512 on the single-core test and multi-core test respectively, which were lower than the iPad Air's scores of 1466 and 2856 on the tests. However, compared to the benchmark scores of the first-generation iPad mini (261 and 493), the new Retina display model shows a significant performance enhancement that is five times faster than that of its predecessor.
According to a report from MacRumors, Apple probably chose to tweak the clock speed of the Retina iPad mini’s A7 processor to reduce heat and improve battery life for the Retina display, which requires a powerful LED backlight.