Apple’s (AAPL) ‘iPad Mini’ Launch Date Revealed: Report

Rumours of a smaller iPad launch continue to gather pace. According to AllThingsD, Apple (AAPL)’s widely anticipated unveiling of its iPad Mini is expected to come on Oct. 23 at an invitation-only event.

Speculation has been mounting over the past few months that a smaller version of the popular iPad tablet from Apple – dubbed iPad Mini by the media – was being developed to take on cheaper competing devices offered by Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG), but Cupertino has made no comment.

AllThingsD, citing “people familiar with Apple’s plans,” said the special event will be on a Tuesday, breaking with Apple’s tradition for Wednesday announcements. The report also notes Oct. 23 has been carefully chosen, coming just three days before Microsoft (MSFT) unveils Windows 8 and its new Surface tablet, and two days before Apple reports quarterly earnings.

Apple has been said to be prepping for the unveiling of the eagerly-anticipated iPad Mini tablet for a while now, and an earlier report from AllThingsD, which has an excellent track record in these matters, suggested October could be when it became official.

If confirmed, a smaller iPad will directly compete with Amazon’s Kindle Fire HD tablet and Google’s Nexus 7. Both devices have 7-inch screens and sell for $199. Analysts speculate the starting price of the iPad Mini, reportedly about half the size of the iPad’s, which measures 9.7 inches diagonally, could be about $299.

According to industry analysts, a smaller iPad may hurt Apple’s industry-leading margins, given that neither Amazon nor Google have made much money from the smaller tablets. However, Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu was quoted as saying to the Reuters News agency that, if Apple prices the smaller tablet between $299 to $349, it could maintain the current margins.

“The biggest cost in a tablet is the display,” he said. “On a mini, the display will be a bit cheaper…If the tablet is priced below $299, Apple could still maintain a decent margin if it offers 8 GB of storage instead of the minimum 16 GB storage it has in the current iPad”, Wu added.

The iPad Mini is expected to be equipped with Apple’s A5 dual-core processor, 1GB RAM and have a narrower bezel allowing for a larger screen in the 7.85-inch form factor. The iPad miniature is also expected to come with a front and back side camera, Wifi, and dipper Facebook (FB) and Google Map integration. Whether Apple will hit the price range Wu suggested, remains to be seen.

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