Apple (News - Alert), according to current reports, is planning something of an end of the year surprise for its customers, as component suppliers recently provided reports that Apple had placed a big order for the iPad Mini for the fourth quarter. How big? Over 10 million units big, say the reports, which in turn doubles the order that Amazon put out for Kindle Fire tablets for the fourth quarter.
At this stage of the game, Apple isn't responding to requests for comment, not even from the Wall Street Journal, but ordering 10 million tablets produced is a pretty fair bet that Apple believes demand for its newest tablet will be brisk. Given the response from the market for the Kindle Fire, as well as from other small tablets like the Samsung (News - Alert) Galaxy Note, it makes plenty of sense for Apple to be engaged in this market, as Apple currently holds 69.6 percent of the worldwide tablet market. In 2010, however, that number was roughly 84 percent, showing a big drop for Apple in the face of stiff competition from smaller, more bargain-priced tablets.
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Current word expects Apple to start sending out invitations for a launch event for the iPad Mini--which may not ultimately be its name--this Wednesday, October 10. Further, more than a few folks out there, like Wanli Wang, an analyst with RBS, suggest that, if the device is priced properly--at the under $300 mark, for example--the end result will be substantial sales for Apple. Given that Apple just put out a massive order for the devices, doubling that of the firmly-entrenched Kindle Fire, it's a safe bet that Apple expects these things to sell, and sell big.
Naturally, Apple should expect big sales. Few companies go into a market expecting to sell only a few items, and Apple has always had something of a built-in market, with plenty of users eager to get hands on the newest Apple device of the day. With the economy still sputtering, giving users who wouldn't ordinarily buy Apple products due to their expense a chance to buy in at a lower price for a somewhat lesser experience will also likely be welcome, and give Apple a chance to access a market it previously didn't have available to it.
While only time will tell just what the Apple release schedule and pricing data looks like for the new smaller Apple tablet--even what its name is--it's a safe bet that Apple will see some big sales indeed going into the last days of 2012.
Edited by Brooke Neuman