It appears that Apple is planning to close the year 2012 on a high note. After recently announcing the iPhone 5, the rumour mills are gathering steam over another products expected to feature in the brand’s portfolio, the iPad mini. According to a report by Fortune, Apple will send out invites to media houses on October 10, and the topic of discussion would be a smaller version of the brand’s highly successful tablet.

As per the report, “This is a rumor we have no reason to believe except it comes from a major Apple (AAPL) investor who says he's heard it from “multiple sources.” According to our source, who asked not be named, there appears to be some truth to the widespread rumors that Apple is preparing to launch a smaller and cheaper version of the iPad — often called the iPad mini or iPad air and usually described as having a 7.85-inch screen.”

Samsung claims an iPad Mini coming this year

Going to be unveiled soon

Fortune's source went on to state that the invites would be sent out on the 10thof this month. The report's author states, “If the rumor is true, and if Apple follows its usual scheduling protocol, that would suggest a special event to unveil the product on Wednesday, Oct. 17, with a launch day of Friday Nov. 2 — plenty of time to capture holiday sales.”

Apple has been losing its market share in the tablet segment to the likes of Amazon with its Kindle Fire, and Google with its Nexus 7 tablet. For Apple to stay in the run, and cater to a customer base that would want a smaller tablet, Apple would have to launch a 7-inch tablet to cement its throne as the leading tablet manufacturer. The Google Nexus 7 tablet is faring exceedingly well in the market and rumours suggest that a 3G version of the tablet may also be in the works. As far as Amazon is concerned, the Kindle Fire slate is already around a year old, and the brand is expected to launch a refreshed version of the slate on September 6. Apple would need to step into this segment to battle the increasing competition from other manufacturers.

Speculating on the competition at hand, while the prices of the Nexus 7 and the Kindle Fire are similar, the Nexus 7 seems to be the device of choice as it comes with beefier hardware along with access to Android v4.1 (Jelly Bean) as well as future Android releases, as opposed to the Kindle Fire’s Android v2.3 (Gingerbread). However, Apple has its own iOS operating system. When it does announce the iPad mini, it will most likely launch it with iOS 6 straight out of the box.

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