Apple Inc will use screens from AU Optronics Corp (AUO, 友達) and LG Display Co for a smaller version of the iPad to be released in October, according to four people familiar with the plans.
TPK Holding Co (宸鴻) and Yeh Cheng Technology (業成), a subsidiary of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), will supply the lamination coating for the device that will measure 19.9cm diagonally, said the people, who declined to be identified because the plans have not been made public. Current iPads measure 24.6cm.
The orders would be the first time AUO, a maker of panels for Apple’s MacBooks and Sony Corp TVs, supplies screens for Apple handheld devices.
A smaller iPad order could boost sales at AUO, Taiwan’s second-largest flat-panel maker, with Apple selling five times as many iPads as MacBooks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
LG Display and TPK are already suppliers for Apple’s handheld devices, which include the iPhone and iPad.
Offering a smaller tablet may help Apple hold on to its dominant market share in the face of new devices from Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp. The company shipped 17 million iPads in the second quarter, holding a market share of about 70 percent, a researcher from IHS said on Aug. 14.
Apple has sold more than 84 million iPads since the device’s debut in 2010, contributing to strong quarterly earnings and a market valuation that has exceeded US$625 billion — the highest ever for a public company. The iPad 2, released in March last year, sells for US$399. The newest models, out this past March, sell for US$499 to US$829, depending on the amount of storage and wireless capabilities.
Amazon said on Thursday its Kindle Fire tablet had sold out, a week before analysts expect the Seattle-based company to release a new version of its e-reader or tablet. Those devices will be priced “very competitively,” Kerry Rice, an analyst at Needham & Co Inc, said last week.
The Internet retailer, which launched the US$199 Kindle Fire tablet in November last year, has a major news conference scheduled for Thursday next week in Santa Monica, California.
Amazon has not said how many Fires it has sold, but says it captured 22 percent of US tablet sales over nine months. That would make it the second-most popular tablet, after the iPad.
The Fire, which is about half the size of the iPad, could face a tougher challenge this holiday season. Many analysts expect Apple to introduce a smaller, cheaper iPad to take on the threat of the Kindle Fire and reach buyers who cannot afford a full-sized iPad.
In addition, Google just launched its own Kindle-sized tablet, the Nexus 7, which is selling for US$199.