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At the time of the iPad Mini‘s launch we predicted that its sales could compete directly not just with the Nook and the Kindle Fire, but also with its big brother, the iPad 4. It appears as if our predictions were correct – a recent survey indicates that while Minis are in short demand, the iPad 4 is widely available at Apple stores.

The reasons for this appear simple: the market and customers are fickle, and they don’t necessarily behave as expected. Apple expected the iPad 4 to sell normally – Apple’s “normal” meaning “much better than its predecessor”. Apple’s loyal following usually leads them to have increased sales as customers trade in their older-now-outdated products for the new “cutting edge” one.

But the same process that led so many people to turn away from their usual products to try the iPod when it first came out, or the first generation iPhone, has now turned against Apple in a way. Customers are more curious about the new iPad Mini, and it became the “it” thing to have, while the iPad 4 became the normal, boring tablet when compared to its little brother.

This speculation is all good, but there may be a darker side to this story. When the iPhone 5 came out, many of its shipping delays were blamed on the assembly line. The manufacturers didn’t have enough time to prepare their workforce for the task of putting together the small pieces that make the iPhone, which led to production delays. Apparently, similar problems have hit the manufacturing process of the iPad Mini. Due to its smaller and thinner size, it is more difficult to put together well than originally thought, and many have been sent back due to defects. None of this has been officially confirmed, but there are rumors out there and there is a precedent to these issues.

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