The iPad mini is coming and it is expected to revolutionize the 7-inch tablet segment in a market that is currently being dominated by the likes of the Google Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire. Even though the tablet is still a mythical device and there is no official word regarding it, the competitors are reportedly cutting the prices of their devices to prepare for the launch of the smaller iPad once it hits shelves.

As per a report by Pocket-Lint, “Barnes & Noble has slashed the US prices of its Nook tablet and eReader devices in a move that some are interpreting as a safeguard approach to the rumoured arrivals of an iPad mini and Kindle Fire 2. The Nook tablet 8GB version is now available for $179, with the 16GB version available for $199, having previously cost $249. Likewise, the Nook Color is now available for $149, having originally gone on the market for $249.”

The Nook tablet. Can it un-Kindle Amazon's Fire?

The 16GB Nook tablet now available for $149

The e-reader and the Nook tablet both feature screen sizes measuring 7-inches and due to this display size, it will be a direct competitor to the iPad mini which is believed to feature a display size of 7.85-inches.

It is believed that Apple component suppliers in Asia are preparing for mass production in September for a tablet computer with a smaller screen than the iPad, confirming that the launch of the device is near. The report went on to mention that officials at the component suppliers, who did not wish to be named, said that Apple has asked them to prepare for the mass production of the smaller tablet. Earlier this year, there had been reports doing the rounds indicating that Apple was testing a tablet with a smaller display, but hadn't decided yet whether to proceed with the production.

It may be really interesting to see if Apple does launch an iPad with a lower budget, as the brand has lost a significant amount of market share to 7-inch tablets. The main competitor is the Amazon Kindle Fire, which has eaten quite a bit of Apple’s share in the tablet market, in comparison to other tablets.

As for the launch of this smaller iPad, there have been various rumours indicating that Apple would unveil it at the time it announces the next generation iPhone aka the iPhone 5.

Apart from the slash in prices by Barnes and Noble, there are also leaks of cases which are supposedly designed for the iPad mini. The leaked images of the case showed a part of the tablet and it featured the redesigned dock that is expected to be introduced with the upcoming iPhone.

Another difference that is expected on the iPad mini is that it will feature a dedicated mic at the back to help in cancelling out noise during video calls.

From the looks of it, it appears that the launch date is coming soon. As of now we have to wait and see how the whole thing pans out or see if any other leaks occur prior to the announcement.

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