The news regarding the diminutive iPad seems to be gathering momentum on a steady basis. The latest information comes via Digitimes. The website claims that sources within the industry supply chain have informed it that Au Optronics (AUO) will ship up to 500,000 panels for the supposed iPad mini, which is believed to be unveiled by October this year.

As per the report, the author states, “AU Optronics (AUO) will ship approximately 400,000-500,000 panels for Apple's reported 7.85-inch iPad in September, according to industry supply chain sources. AUO was not available for comment but sources said that approximately 400,000 panels per a month will be produced from the company and as many as 600,000 from LG Display. The sources pointed out that the supply chain already started supplying a small volume of 7.85-inch iPad in June, with a monthly volume at around several hundred thousand. AUO's estimated shipment share along with the amount of OLED panels it is producing will help the company make up for losses it has incurred over the last seven consecutive quarters, added the sources.”

Samsung claims an iPad Mini coming this year

AUO and LG ramping up panels

This recent report by Digitimes backs an earlier report by Bloomberg that revealed that Au Optronics and LG Displays were chosen to produce the panels for the upcoming 7.85-inch tablet.

Apple is the market leader when it comes to tablets. However, it is has been losing its share in this segment to the likes of Amazon with its Kindle Fire, and Google with its Nexus 7 tablet. For Apple to stay in the run and cater to a customer base that would want a smaller tablet, Apple would have to launch a 7-inch tablet to cement its throne as the leading tablet manufacturer. The Google Nexus 7 tablet is faring exceedingly well in the market and rumours suggest that a 3G version of the tablet may also be in the works. As far as Amazon is concerned, the Kindle Fire slate is already around a year old, and the brand is expected to launch a refreshed version of the slate on September 6. Apple would need to step into this segment to battle the increasing competition from other manufacturers.

Speculating on the competition at hand, while the prices of the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire are similar, the Nexus 7 seems to be the device of choice as it comes with beefier hardware along with access to Android v4.1 (Jelly Bean) as well as future Android releases, as opposed to the Kindle Fire’s Android v2.3 (Gingerbread). However, Apple has its own iOS operating system. When it does announce the iPad mini, it will most likely launch it with iOS 6 straight out of the box.

The report goes on to mention, “A smaller iPad order could boost sales at AUO, Taiwan’s second-largest flat-panel maker, with Apple selling five times as many iPads as MacBooks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. LG Display and TPK are already suppliers for Apple’s handheld devices, which include the iPhone and iPad. Yeh Cheng, a maker of touch-screen sensors and lamination, was spun off from Chimei Innolux earlier this year and sold to Hon Hai, said Chimei Innolux spokesman C.H. Lin. That division began supplying sensors for the iPad 2 last year.”

The report by Digitimes mentions that though there is no official word on the pricing of the iPad mini, it believes that even if Apple prices it at $299, it would still create a major impact in the market.

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