When the iPad mini debuted on Wednesday with a $329 starting price tag and a 7.9-inch display, there was an immediate firestorm over whether or not Apple missed the mark already within the smaller tablet game.
However, more and more analysts are coming to Apple's defense, so to speak, with more positive outlooks for the sized-down iOS tablet.
NPD DisplaySearch, for example, argued that "supply issues" are more likely to hamper the iPad mini's sales at first over anything else.
Richard Shim, a senior analyst at DisplaySearch, listed in the report some of Apple's major supply chain partners, highlighting that the strained relationship with Samsung might be the big stumbling block:
Samsung has been one of the leading panel suppliers for the iPad. In fact when the new iPad was first released, Samsung was the only supplier that could meet production orders with LG Display gradually ramping up to meet demand. However, Samsung and Apple appear to be winding down their relationship most likely due to the legal conflicts the two have been embroiled in recently. In previous iPad launches, LG Display and Samsung have been the main panel suppliers with roughly equal panel production.
Shim also argued in the DisplaySearch memo that "the new low price point is expected to appeal to a wider audience and drive up demand." The idea is that for the Mac fans, $329 still isn't too much to ask.
Yesterday, market intelligence firm IHS iSuppli issued a report positing that a "smaller iPad" will do so well that it will contribute to the doubling of the 7-inch media tablet market in 2012 and 2013.
Just as Apple has dominated the market for 9.7-inch tablets with its iPad, iPad 2 and new iPad models, the company is poised to rule the market for 7.x-inch products, driving rapid growth of the segment in 2012 and 2013. The battle in the 7-inch space is highly spirited, with most of the other leading vendors already offering price-competitive products in this size range. IHS predicts Apple will successfully position the smaller iPad as a device that will be attractive and easy to adopt for both new and returning customers. This will spur rapid sales growth and provide tough competition for other companies contending in this size range.
While it is important to note that the report was published prior to Apple's unveiling of the iPad mini in San Jose later on Wednesday, it's still arguable that the iPad mini will do well -- at least for a smaller tablet.
The problem for the iPad mini might be framing its success in comparison to previous Apple products, which typically have more pressure to sell by astronomical amounts at launch time compared to other brands.