Online Apple Store Shipping Times Guarantee a Retina iPad Mini Christmas

Source: Apple.comSoon after Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPad mini with Retina display became available on November 12, shipping estimate times from the Online Apple Store climbed as high as two weeks. However, Apple has recently boosted the inventory levels of its latest compact tablet model and online shipping estimate times have now dropped as low as one to three business days.

As noted on Apple’s holiday shipping deadline page, this means that shoppers can still order the non-engraved version of the iPad mini with Retina display today and receive it by December 24. If ordered by the midnight deadline today, customers can also take advantage of Apple’s free standard shipping offer with guaranteed delivery by Christmas Eve. Otherwise, last-minute online shoppers have until December 18 to get the Retina iPad mini delivered by December 24 if they select the next day shipping option.

Of course, shoppers can also take their chances at their local Apple Store. However, it should be noted that consumer demand for Apple’s iPads is especially high this holiday shopping season and in-store supplies may be limited during the final shopping rush before Christmas. A recent consumer survey conducted by Changewave Research found that 72 percent of planned tablet buyers intended to buy an Apple iPad this holiday season.

Apple’s improved supply of Retina iPad minis appears to have proven many industry analysts’ predictions wrong. IHS iSuppli predicted in October that as many as two out of three shoppers looking for an iPad mini with Retina display this holiday shopping season would be left empty-handed due to “ridiculously tight” supplies. Many analysts cited unnamed supply chain sources that reported production problems with the tablet’s new high-resolution Retina display. For example, Korea’s ETNews reported that multiple suppliers were having issues with a “burn-in” problem in the LCD panel.

However, several different analysts reported good levels of Retina iPad mini inventory at various retail locations during the initial Black Friday holiday shopping rush. According to Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore via Apple Insider, the only shortages he observed was a somewhat limited supply of the cellular version of the iPad mini with Retina display at some of the Apple Stores that he checked.

During Apple’s fiscal fourth-quarter earnings call, CEO Tim Cook predicted that, “It’s going to be an iPad Christmas.” Judging by the recently shortened online shipping times for the iPad mini with Retina display, it appears that Cook’s prescient prediction will come true. Here’s how Apple traded on Friday.

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