A new report has today cited sources as suggesting Apple may launch a miniature version of its iPad tablet device as soon as this year, citing recent moves by Google and Amazon into the low-cost, high volume tablet market as being one of the drivers behind Apple's yet-to-be-confirmed decision.
Bloomberg - citing two anonymous sources - suggests the smaller, 7" to 8" version of the iPad (which they refer to as the iPad Mini) could go on sale as soon as October this year, but won't feature the high resolution "retina" display that the all new iPad announced this year boasts.
Instead the report suggests the new tablet - which would sell for a lower price than that of the existing iPad (starting from $499) and perhaps nearer near the price range of Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google's Nexus 7 tablet (both priced at $199) - has been extensively considered by Apple. As expected, Apple refused to comment on the speculation.
Similarly, Apple blog MacRumors suggests that Apple will use Sharp's indium gallium zinc oxide (IGZO) technology that will allow the display of the iPad Mini device to be thinner and brighter than it could otherwise be. Chinese website MyDrivers.com even goes as far as to suggest the display of the new iPad Mini will be 7.85".
Rumours of the smaller iPad have been persisting for a long time now, despite the late Steve Jobs publicly voicing his distaste for the smaller tablets that arguably are yet to find their place in the market.
"There are clear limits of how close you can place physical elements on a touch screen, before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them. This is one of the key reasons we think the 10-inch screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps," Jobs said in 2010, calling 7" tablets "tweeners" and having no place between an iPhone and iPad.
Apple follower Daring Fireball's John Gruber mentioned on a podcast in April that he had heard Apple were testing the device in its labs, but said he couldn't be sure that Apple had any plans to publicly release the device.