The cellular edition of the iPad Mini debuted in China today, but buyers will have to wait two weeks before it ships.
That delay also applies to the Wi-Fi only version, which has been out for about six weeks. A check of the Apple Store in China finds that all capacities of both the Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi + Cellular models are stuck with a two-week ship time.
Apple has been battling to meet global demand for its diminutive tablet, which has outshone its larger, fourth-generation cousin. The newest 9.7-inch tablet is in stock at most online Apple stores around the world. In China, the Wi-Fi version of the 9.7 incher is immediately available, while the Wi-Fi + Cellular version offers a wait time of a few days.
The Wi-Fi only iPad Mini and the fourth-gen iPad debuted in Hong Kong on November 2 and in China on December 7. Since then, the smaller tablet has created a feeding frenzy among Chinese buyers. Checks of retailers in China and Hong Kong last month by Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White revealed "an insatiable appetite" for the Mini, causing a supply shortage.
iPad sales for last quarter may actually ring in lower than expected due to supply constraints, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Mark Moskowitz.
In an investors note out yesterday, the analyst forecast unit sales of 18.4 million for the Mini and the iPad 4 combined, down from his previous estimate of 20.1 million. The analyst does view the downturn as a temporary glitch, noting that iPad supply started to improve in early December.
However, financial advisory firm Macquarie Research believes the problem will extend to the current quarter, according to Reuters. Macquarie's crystal ball sees shipments of the larger iPad dropping almost 40 percent in the present quarter to around 8 million. That's down from its prior forecast of 13 million, though the firm believes total tablet shipments will show a smaller decline due to heavy sales of the iPad Mini.
Apple has also asked display maker Sharp to decrease production of screens for the 9.7-inch iPad, Reuters added. The move has led to speculation that demand for the iPad Mini could be affecting overall screen production. But sources say it could also simply be the result of a seasonal correction.