"It's unclear whether we will have enough for the quarter or not," Cook said during his company's quarterly earnings conference call. "We know how many we will have, but you really don't know the demand until you start shipping."
The comments from Apple's CEO were made in response to a question from Steve Milunovich, an analyst with UBS. Prior to the announcement of the second-generation iPad mini last week, rumors persisted that production problems could limit supply through the end of 2013.
The fact that the Retina iPad mini is launching after the new iPad Air has been further interpreted as a sign that Apple may not be able to meet demand for its new 7.9-inch tablet this holiday season.
Still, Cook told analysts he expects his company will do "fairly well" in overall iPad sales this quarter, going as far as to call it "an iPad Christmas."
For the just-concluded September quarter, Apple executives revealed that the company beat its own internal expectations for iPad sales. Overall iPad sales were at 14.1 million for the three-month period, up slightly from the 14 million the company shipped in the same quarter a year prior.
Cook said Apple isn't focused on unit share when it comes to sales of its devices, and that he would rather attract and retain customers through customer satisfaction. Still, the CEO said he's "confident" that Apple will grow its iPad sales year over year in the December quarter.