The leader of touchscreen devices in the tablet category, Apple, with its newest iPad4 edition might have a strong challenger, and no its not Samsung or Motorola it is iPad mini. With the release of the iPad mini Apple was thought to be the company to overcome the so called cannibalization of its products, but according to Reuters that might not be the case.

According to news giant Sharp, one of the Apple’s largest display suppliers significantly reduced the production of full sized displays for Ipad.  On the other hand Reuters has not specified if the slowdown is seasonal (Q1 sales are obviously lower then Q4 sales) or if iPad mini is to blame.

However, Macquarie, a research firm told Reuters that they expected iPad sales to drop by a staggering 40% this year. On the other hand joint sales of iPad mini and full-sized iPad will be large enough to shadow the drop, and might not be felt that much.

Even though Apple will not report its earning until January 23rd, early estimates suggest that company might have shipped 12 million iPad mini devices, other more conservative estimates puts it at 8 million.

What might seem as the case of classic cannibalization of companies own products might in fact be the exact opposite. The release of the iPad mini opens doors to new sales opportunities.  The key factor is the difference of markets. On one hand there is the smartphone market on the other there is the tablet market.

Tablet market, unlike the cellphone market, where devices are usually replaced every 12 to 24 months by carriers with contracts, the tablet market is much more stagnant and stable. Tablets generally are larger more stable devices that are most likely be used 2 to 3 years from now. With the release of Ipad 2 Apple’s tablet sales peaked, and when Ipad 3 arrived consumer interest in Apple tablets declined. Not because they were lacked something, it was simply because many already owned an Ipad.  This might be the primary reason of the iPad mini release.

From a consumer perspective the release of iPad mini compelled some to “downgrade” to the smaller more compact device, others were intrigued by lower price. Another group of consumers the ones who owned iPod touch (but not an iPad) might have also been persuaded to purchase since mini presented an opportunity to upgrade. Apple has not yet release individual sales figures but so far we know in the first weekend of availability iPad 4 and iPad mini sold 3 million units and that does not even include Chinese launch.