Q2 In Peril iPad and iPad mini shipments constricted by supply chain touch screen sensors
Apple iPad and iPad mini shipments may be affected by lack of touch screen sensors
Siu Han, Taipei; Alex Wolfgram, DIGITIMES [Thursday 7 March 2013]
Japan-based Nissha Printing, Apple's main supplier of thin-film touch sensors for the iPad mini, may not be able to supply enough of the sensors for Apple's next-generation iPad and iPad mini products due to a lack of production capacity, according to industry sources.
The next-generation 9.7-inch iPad is expected to use the same touch sensors as the iPad mini's thin-film DITO (G/F2) touch panel structure. This means that Apple will be looking mostly to Nissha to supply the touch sensors for both devices as the Japan-based firm is a leading provider of the technology, the sources said.
Nissha currently has an annual production capacity for 60 million 9.7-inch equivalent touch sensors, said the sources. Approximately 33 million iPads are expected to be shipped during 2013 while shipments of the 7.9-inch iPad mini are expected to reach 55 million units, indicating that Nissha's production capacity of the touch sensors will be below Apple's expected demand for the two tablet products.
However, the sources stated that Nissha has plans to expand its production capacity by 30% before the end of the first quarter of 2013.
Despite the increase, the sources added that another conflict may arise, which is competition between the two Apple products' supply chains. The supply chains, which will not be entirely the same even though similiar technology is expected to be used in the two types of tablets, may have to scramble for the thin-film touch sensor technology during the second quarter of the year in order to meet shipment demand in the following quarter. The sources eluded that this type of internal supply chain conflict may cause one of the devices to lack in shipments upon their release.