KGI Securities’ Ming-Chi Kuo, who has been pretty accurate in predicting Apple (AAPL) hardware launches, claims in a recent research note that Cupertino might introduce a more affordable iPad mini at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in June.
Citing production issues associated with the Retina display, which is believed to be the main problem pushing Apple’s second-generation iPad mini launch back to the fourth quarter of this year, Kuo suggests that Apple may be looking at a lower-priced iPad mini in the interim to compete with low-cost Android tablets such as the Nexus 7. To bring the cost down, Kuo believes Apple will use cheaper build materials, reduce the storage down to 8GB and eliminate the rear-facing camera. He sees a stripped down, cheaper iPad mini being priced between $199 and $249.
“Prior to iPad mini 2 launch, Apple might roll out a more affordable iPad mini to compete with Android products”, Kuo writes in his note to clients, adding that to cut costs “Apple might push for lower component prices, use a more advanced process to produce the A5 processor, simplify metal casing production, remove the rear camera, cut storage to 8GB and find more component suppliers to lower costs. We think this cheaper iPad mini retail for US$199~249.”
The current version of the iPad mini runs $329, at the low end.
While the changing levels of demand confirm consumers prefer the smaller footprint of smaller tablets, Kuo doesn’t believe that such a device would offer a significant increase to Apple’s overall iPad sales.