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November 09, 2012

Next iPad Mini Already in the Pipeline?

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Given the screaming from Apple (News - Alert) loyalists about the "quality" of the iPad Mini and the rapid deployment of the latest iPad generation in around six months, I'm willing to lay even odds that the design for a second-generation iPad Mini is already in its final stages and could make an appearance as soon as Spring 2013.

For a lot of people, the iPad Mini is turning out to be the perfect device in terms of size and price point. Apple says it sold over three million new iPads and Minis over the first three days of sale. The company isn't breaking out the numbers between the big and small tablets, but Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster estimates Apple sold two million to 2.5 million iPad Minis, reports CNet

That's a lot of product, indicating some pent-up demand even with numerous new Android tablets and Microsoft (News - Alert) Surface hitting the streets at the same time.

SlashGear reports a rumor from China that iPad Mini display maker AUO is working on a 2048x1536 pixel display for the second-generation version of the 7.9-inch tablet, giving it the same Retina display style as the third- and current-generation iPads. 

Its Chinese-translated sources expects mass production by the second half of 2013, meaning a second-gen iPad Mini would appear in the fourth quarter of next year – just in time for the holiday shopping season.

Apple loyalists are horrified at the iPad Mini not having the same Retina display as the newer iPad and iPhone (News - Alert) models. I know of one who actually (Gasp!) returned his iPad Mini and cancelled his order for the forthcoming cellular version of the device.  It's the first time he's actually returned an Apple device and he's been faithfully been buying them for two decades.

Cranking out a shiny new iPad Mini would sate Apple's loyalists who have starting the company's direction in the post-Steven-Jobs era. They're already annoyed at the six-month refresh between regular-size iPads between this spring and fall, so a less-superior iPad Mini is another disturbing sign of Apple's decline.

The big gating factor for a new iPad Mini is a supply of Retina-quality displays. All Apple needs to do is slap a faster A6 processor to drive the more graphics-intensive display and it can start cranking up a faster/better Mini as a higher-end device, drop the price on the first-generation Mini, and start seeing how much market share it can vacuum up against other 7- to 8-inch tablets.

As noted above, rumors currently put the iPad Mini gen 2 appearing about a year from now, but nobody expected the "Fast refresh" of the bigger screen iPad so soon. Apple executives might feel they can't afford sit on an "OK" product with the flood of Android (News - Alert) tablets on the market and its loyal fan base expecting better.

Edited by Braden Becker
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