iPad Mini: Rumoured To Be Unveiled On October 17

According to the latest rumours Apple will be launching a miniature version of their iPad to try and fend off competition from Amazon and Google. The tech giant is expected to introduce the iPad Mini on October 17, crucially just a week before Amazon releases its Kindle Fire range of budget tablets in the UK for the first time.

The budget tablet market is expected to be big business this Christmas with a host of competing tablets arriving from the likes of Amazon, Google and, now, Barnes & Noble’s with their recently announced Nook HD.

The recent influx of cheap tablets are the biggest threat to Apple’s market share. Last year Apple’s grip on the market was 80 per cent, but this has since dropped to 52 per cent. In that short space of time the Kindle Fire has manages to snatch an impressive  21 per cent of the tablet market in the US, meanwhile Apple’s biggest rival Samsung has only managed to grab eight per cent.

The iPad mini is, of course, a miniature version the current iPad – but in order to make it smaller it’s a likely to have a similar specs to the current iPad 2, and not the same spec as the full-fat new iPad.

So don’t expect a high definition screen – it just wouldn’t be feasible for a sub £200 tablet, and any chances it will have the new processor are extremely thin, too.

The October 17 date rumoured online was this week reported by Fortune magazine who are quoting ‘multiple sources” and they expect the invites to be sent out on October 10. So it won’t be long until we know for sure, if the invites get sent then it’s almost guaranteed to be an iPad mini announcement. If Apple follows previous form, the event will be held in San Francisco, with a simultaneous launch in London.

To add even more fuel to the fire images reporting to be the new iPad mini surfaced online this week on a Russian tech site. The images show off the rear of the iPad Mini and suggest the device will measure 7.85inches, with an aluminium back-cover similar to the most recent iPad.

From the pictures you can clearly see a slot for a camera and it also shows it will come with Apple’s newest ‘lightning’ connector, which has replaced the usual 30-pin connector. It has courted quite a bit of controversy as the re-design has made millions of accessories and chargers obsolete unless you stump up £25 for an adaptor – which apparently is pretty hard to come by at the moment.

Apple is almost guaranteed to stick to its usual design style, so don’t expect a radically different design. But you can expect it come in two colours, black and white. We’d expect the new tablet to come with either 3G or maybe even 4G, but neither has been confirmed as yet.

How much an iPad mini will cost is probably the most important decisions Apple will take this year – get it wrong and no-one will bother buying it, get it right and it could see Apple cement its position in the budget market for years to come.

The competition should give us a decent idea of a price tag; the Nexus 7 from Google retails for £159 for the 8GB version – so a price tag of around £200 for a 16GB version of the iPad mini would seem like a likely price point. Any higher and they’ll price themselves out of the market.

Steve Jobs was famously unconvinced by the merits of a smaller iPad, stating it was a “poor” compromise between the iPad and iPhone.

However Apple appears to have had a change of heart, particularly now that the tablet market has now matured, with the budget tablet market being the only real untapped sector they don’t compete in.

One issue Apple might face by launching a Mini is a fragmentation in its core product lines. Since the release of the iPhone 5, Apple’s two product lines had kept the same screen resolution, meaning apps did not need redesigning for different devices, a problem that plagues the competing Android platform.

Apple obviously keeps it cards close to its chest and until those white envelopes start dropping on journalist’s desks we can’t be sure of anything, but the consumers have spoken and now it’s time for Apple to listen and shrink the iPad, despite what Steve Jobs’ might have thought.

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- who has written 609 posts on UK Gadget and Tech News, Reviews and Shopping.

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