updated 08:00 pm EST, Fri December 13, 2013
Second improvement in supply since mid-November debut
On the heels of significant improvements to Apple's iPhone 5s stock, the company has now listed its latest product, the Retina iPad mini, as shipping in 1-3 days in its North American and Asia Pacific stores. This is the second time Apple has been able to improve shipping delays; earlier this week saw the first improvement, from vague delays of 1-2 weeks to 3-5 days. The product was initially constrained due to issues with display yields, which were later resolved.
As a result of the slow availability of the Retina iPad mini, the larger but roughly same-weight iPad Air has taken pride of place in Apple's tablet sales during the quarter. The nearly 9.7-inch tablet, which was already sporting a Retina-quality display, has caught up with the more advanced first-gen iPad mini in term of lightness, making the decision between the two models more a matter of size and price.
Some Apple online stores are still showing 3-5 day ship times, mostly in Europe, but times are expected to improve shortly. Apple has focused its efforts on ensuring adequate supplies of its most-popular products in time for the holidays, with inventories of the iPhone 5s improving markedly as the buying season began. The Retina iPad mini is still a bit harder to find at retail in some configurations (particularly LTE/3G-compatible cellular models, as well as the larger 64GB and 128GB Wi-Fi models), but it has certainly been seen to be more available since the start of the month.
Initially the Retina iPad mini ran into issues with making enough high-quality displays to meet demand, prompting Apple to do an unusual "quiet" launch of the product on its online store on November 12, with no retail units appearing until more than a week later and with most cellular carriers still back-ordered. The company now requires orders of non-engraved Retina iPad minis to be completed by December 16 in the US in order to ensure delivery by December 24 using standard shipping. Apple also continues to sell -- at a reduced price -- the non-Retina but very popular first-generation iPad mini, and the older but cheaper full-size iPad 2.