Apple iPad Screen Supplier Has Slowed Production Of 9.7 Inch Panes, Says Reuters

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Sharp Corp, a supplier of screens for Apple’s iPad tablet, has slowed production of the 9.7 inch panes used for the full-sized iPads, according to a report by Reuters.

The news agency quotes industry sources with knowledge of Sharp’s production plans, who told it that Sharp’s iPad screen production line at its Kameyama plant in central Japan has “fallen to the minimal level to keep the line running this month after a gradual slowdown began at the end of 2012 as Apple manages its inventory”.

A Sharp spokeswoman declined to comment on the story, telling Reuters: “We don’t disclose production levels.” Apple also declined to comment.

It’s unclear whether the slowdown is due to seasonal changes in demand — or consumers opting for the cheaper and smaller iPad mini instead. Apple launched the iPad mini in November. The tablet has a 7.9 inch display, and retails from $329. Apple has not broken out iPad mini sales — but shortly after launching the small slate it said it had sold three million iPad minis and 4th generation (full size) iPads in three days.

In addition to Sharp, Reuters notes that Apple buys iPad screens from LG Display — its biggest supplier — and Samsung Display. A source at Samsung Display told it there had not been any significant change in its panel business with Apple. A person familiar with the situation at LG Display told Reuters that iPad screen production in the current quarter had fallen from the previous quarter ending in December — but said it was mainly due to typical weak seasonal demand in the post-holiday period.

Apple is due to report its Q1 2013 fiscal results on January 23.