It seems that the elusive iPad mini cannot stay out of the news. This time around, the news comes via tech website CNET, who have spoken with analyst, Richard Shim of NPD DisplaySearch who states that Apple has plans in place for the iPad mini and the only thing remaining is for them to get the production up and running.

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Richard Shim states, “For the 7.85-inch panel, there's a business plan for it, there's a mass production target for it. And we know that it's for Apple.” Shim goes on to state that he does not know the name of the product but that it is going to be a tablet.  The report goes on to state, “NPD DisplaySearch talks to companies in the “supply chain” — firms that make the components and assemble products.
And Shim said production is likely imminent. “Everything is getting set up. We know the lines. We know how many panels are going to come out of the sheets of glass.” That said, Shim added that certitude is elusive until he has confirmation that production has actually begun. “These are supply chain indications. By the very nature of the supply chain, these plans can be altered,” he said.”

This bit of information coincides with a recent report, which stated Apple component suppliers in Asia are preparing for mass production in September of 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 declined to be named, said this week that Apple has told them to prepare for mass production of the smaller tablet. Earlier on this year, there had been reports doing the rounds, which indicated that Apple was testing a tablet with a smaller display, but hadn't yet decided whether to proceed with production.

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 7-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.
With ASUS and Google already releasing the Google Nexus 7 and Amazon readying to release the Kindle Fire 2, it would make sense if Apple does launch a smaller tablet. In the past, there have been rumours of Apple launching an iPhone nano, but it did not bear fruit. But as of now, these are mere rumours and speculations regarding a smaller iPad and all will be known in the next few months if Apple does intend to launch an iPad mini.

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