As with many Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) product launches, the buzz builds on the street before the company officially announces anything. Rumors of an iPad Mini have been rampant, and now The Wall Street Journal Digits blog has reported that Apple component suppliers are saying they have received orders for as many as 10 million units.
The IDC reported in August that it expects Apple’s 2012 tablet shipments to increase by 84.3 percent compared to 2011. Apple represents 68.2 percent of the market, according to their numbers. If the iPad mini manifests, it will likely be designed to compete with Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire line and the increasing share of devices running Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android platform. Research from Pew suggests that Apple only controls 52 percent of the platform share for tablets, with Android devices effectively making up the remaining 48 percent.
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While Apple remains the clear leader in the market, Samsung (SSNLF.PK) and ASUS are increasing their shipping rates more quickly. Both companies boast over 100 percent gains in shipments from 2011 to 2012, and both companies mostly produce tablets that run on Android. They have been gaining share by selling at a lower price point.
Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is also slated to release its tablet, the Surface, on October 26, adding another competitor to the mix. If Apple feels threatened by its dwindling share and a new entrant on the horizon, and the reports out of China are true, then it’s very possible that an iPad Mini will hit shelves for the holiday season.
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