Speculation about the iPad mini has taken an all new turn. Apart from minor rumours doing the rounds on various blog posts, news reports from The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg shed some light on the mystical 7-inch tablet's release date, with both the reports stating that the iPad mini would be launched before the end of this year.

Samsung claims an iPad Mini coming this year

iPad mini could make its entrance soon

The report by Bloomberg states Apple would be launching a tablet that measures between seven to eight inches diagonally, according to information from two anonymous sources. “The new model will have a screen that’s seven inches to eight inches diagonally, less than the current 9.7-inch version, said the people, who asked not to be identified because Apple hasn’t made its plans public. The product, which Apple may announce by October, won’t have the high-definition screen featured on the iPad that was released in March, one of the people said.”

The report quoted Shaw Wu, an analyst at Sterne Agee & Leach Inc. as saying, “A smaller, less expensive iPad could undercut the ambitions of Google, Microsoft and Amazon.com Inc. to gain traction in the advancing tablet market,” According to the report, the new device will probably have a price closer to Google’s Nexus 7 tablet and Amazon’s Kindle Fire, both of which have 7-inch screens and cost $199. This would make their pricing extremely competitive, and since Apple has a track record of launching quality tablets, their competitors could possibly have a hard time competing and would once again resort to playing catch up.

The report by the Wall Street Journal states, “Apple component suppliers in Asia are preparing for mass production in September of a tablet computer with a smaller screen than the iPad, people familiar with the situation said, suggesting a launch for the device is near.”  The report goes on to add, “Officials at the component suppliers, who declined to be named, said this week that Apple has told them to prepare for mass production of the smaller tablet. The Wall Street Journal reported in February that Apple was testing such a device but hadn't yet decided whether to proceed with production. One person said the screen makers Apple is working with include LG Display Co. of South Korea and Taiwan-based AU Optronics Co.”

It may be really interesting if Apple does launch an iPad with a lower budget as the brand has lost a significant amount of market share to seven-inch tablets. The main among these is the Amazon Kindle Fire which has eaten quite a bit of Apple’s share in the tablet market in comparison to other tablets. However, former Apple CEO, Steve Jobs, had always been against a smaller-sized tablet as he believed that only the 9.7-inch form factor was the way to go.

An interesting thing is that Apple has never succumbed to competition by launching products with lower prices. The brand faced stiff competition when netbooks running Windows were launched. However, they did not concede and instead unveiled the MacBook Air, which is still quite costly in comparison to netbooks. On the other hand, to tackle the competition they unveiled a new product altogether, the iPad.

Though the two publications differ slightly in terms of when the handset will be launched, one can surely expect this device to make an appearance before this year ends. If Apple does introduce a smaller iPad in October, the unveiling would coincide with the debut of the next iPhone, a smartphone that is expected to feature a drastic change in appearance as compared to the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,