According to a report from Reuters that was published this morning, Sharp has cut its production of 9.7-inch screens designed for Apple’s full-sized iPad. Apparently, Sharp has stopped shipping panels and is making so few screens at its Kameyama plant in central Japan that it is now at the minimal level to keep the line running.
The slowdown originally began at the end of 2012, soon after the iPad mini was released in October, and can possibly be attributed to both consumer preference for the iPad mini and a seasonal drop in demand for the iPad after the holidays. It is also possible that Apple is using screens from another supplier.
When contacted, Sharp company spokeswoman Miyuki Nakayama refused to comment, saying “We don’t disclose production levels.” Apple officials also declined to comment on the situation.
Sharp is not the only company that Apple uses for its iPad screens. Samsung Display and LG Display also produce screens for Apple’s larger iPads, and it does not appear that production has been halted at those companies.
Though representatives from both companies declined to comment, a source at Samsung Display said that there had been no significant change in its panel business with Apple, and a source at LG Display said that while screen production had fallen a bit, it was due to weak seasonal demand that happens after a year-end holiday sales period.
The news that Apple’s iPad screen orders may be winding down comes just after evidence that demand for the iPad mini remains high.
The iPad mini, despite being released in October, is still difficult to get in some areas of the world. Wait times in the United States remain at a week for both the WiFi and WiFi + Cellular versions, while wait times reach up to two weeks in places like the U.K. and China.
Despite predictions that the iPad mini would not cut into iPad sales, it seems inevitable, especially given the iPad mini’s popularity. Though the order cut can be attributed to the holidays, I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that Apple is selling quite a few less iPads to consumers who prefer the smaller form factor of the mini.