Apple today announced Q4 earnings, beating both revenue and EPS estimates. They shippped 33.8 million iPhones, a record setting quarter for the company. iPad sales were flat, with sales of 14.1 million compared to 14 million a year ago. This is not a tremendous surprise, given the lack of new product in that category. That will change starting Friday with the release of the new iPad Air and the late November release of the retina iPad mini. Apple’s CEO spoke about the new iPads, where he alluded to possible shortages, specific to the retina iPad mini. According to Tim Cook, “It’s unclear whether we will have enough for the quarter or not. We know how many we will have, but you really don’t know the demand until you start shipping.”
This isn’t the first we’ve heard of possible shortages affecting the smaller of the two new iPads. Prior to the introduction last week, sources speaking to Reuters in early October indicated that production was just starting to ramp up. While the iPad Air is being released this Friday, the retina mini still doesn’t have a release date, instead a vague ‘late November’ window.
News of demand outstripping supply continued last week. According to Rhoda Alexander, director of Tablet and Monitor Research at IHS iSuppli, “The supply for that product is severely constrained.” Alexander went on to day they don’t expect to see meaningful volume until the first quarter of 2014.
Apple has yet to see enough volume of the iPhone 5s to satisfy incredible demand. Despite the new thinner, lighter design associated with the iPad Air, it doesn’t appear that product will see the same shortages of what Tim Cook called “the best iPad we’ve ever done.” Earlier today, several reports pointed to Apple allowing personal pickup of the iPad Air starting this Friday. This practice is not something Apple has done with iPhones or iPads that have constrained supplies, indicating sufficient supply could be found on shelves this Friday. Customers could be holding out for the iPad mini retina, with the first generation becoming the most popular iPad to date.
Cook is hardly concerned that flat sales of the iPad is a trend, saying it was going to be, “an iPad Christmas.”