Is Apple Adding a Holdup to All the Delays?

Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) next iPad mini may be coming not so soon. Production of the device could be delayed by a month, pushing the release back as late as the beginning of 2014.

The suggested delays come from sources for DigiTimes that are reportedly connected to Taiwanese suppliers for Apple. The sources claimed that Apple’s next 9.7-inch iPad would have a production window between July and August. From there, shipments could reach up to 5 million units by the end of September.

This rumor wouldn’t stray far from Apple’s suggestion that the company would be launching new devices in the fall. Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook said that would be the time when new devices came out in the company’s most recent earnings call.

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For the next iPad mini, the sources suggested that production would be pushed back to November. It’s possible that manufacturing will be at maximum capacity for Apple devices and that there wouldn’t have been room for iPad mini production in October, or there could be holdups in applying the rumored retina displays on the iPad mini.

Another reason that the iPad mini could be getting pushed back is the matter of internal competition. Customers aren’t likely to go out and buy their own full-size iPad and an iPad mini at the same time — though it seems unlikely that they would buy both even at a slightly spaced out time interval.

For Apple, if consumers have to make a choice, choosing the full-size iPad is probably the most beneficial. Since the larger iPad has a higher price, it equates to more revenue for the company. However, the iPad mini has the potential to cannibalize sales of the full-size iPad, which would then cut into that revenue.

In regard to the cannibalization, it may be a smart move for Apple to push back the production of the next iPad mini so that it launches after the holiday season. The delay could drive down unit shipments for the time period — earlier forecasts suggested 80 to 100 million iPads would be shipped in 2013, but that could fall substantially without the iPad mini, which was suggested to make up 35 percent of the mix.

Despite the delay cutting into shipments, the move may be best for Apple, as it would force consumers who want the latest and greatest tablets from Apple to consider only the more expensive full-size tablet during the holiday season.

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One person who might not agree with the suggested delays is KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Kuo has a record of accurately predicting Apple’s device launches through his communications with key suppliers. He had predicted that both the iPad 5 and the iPad mini 2 would launch around the same time in the third calendar quarter, right along with a number of other Apple products, like the iPhone 5S.

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