The iPad Mini hasn't even been announced yet, but Apple is already planning to make over 10 million of them in the fourth quarter of this year.
Ten million iPad Minis is almost double the number of Amazon Kindle Fires that were made during Q4 2011 -- and the Fire was the hottest holiday item last year. This shows that Apple has plenty of confidence in its new addition to the iPad family despite the fact that the market is already flooded with 7-inch tablets.
Apple is still the big player in the tablet market with its 9.7-inch iPad, but the tech giant has noticed a new trend that is grabbing customers' attention -- smaller, cheaper tablets.
Companies like Amazon, ASUS and Samsung have turned the tablet world upside down with the idea of smaller tablets that are more affordable, but also have strong features. Amazon led the pack with its 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet last year for $199. Samsung's Galaxy Tabs have 7-inch versions in the mix, and more recently, Google teamed up with ASUS for the 7-inch Nexus 7 tablet for $199.
As if that wasn't enough, Amazon jumped back into the small tablet market with a refreshed 7-inch Kindle Fire HD for $199, an 8.9-inch Fire HD for $299 and a 4G LTE HD model for $499. On top of that, the e-tailer is offering a generous data package with its tablets for only $49.99 per year.
It's clear that the smaller tablet market is quite competitive, and it's what customers want. In Q2 2010, Apple had 84 percent of the worldwide tablet market share. In Q2 2012, this number dropped to 69.6 percent, further showing that competitors like Android-powered tablets are cutting in.
Of course, Apple wants a piece of that pie and is looking to hold onto its tablet dominance. Doing so means the release of an iPad Mini, which is rumored to be a 7.85-inch version of the usual 9.7-inch iPad.
Apple is expected to announce the iPad Mini later this month. Last week, Apple's Asian component suppliers started production of the iPad Mini, and the tech giant is looking to make about 10 million in Q4 2012 for the holiday season. However, the iPad Mini's success will be largely based on its affordability and features, which have yet to be disclosed.