Word has it that electronics manufacturers in China have been approached by Apple, supposedly with the intention of creating the first batch of iPad Mini, expected to come to market around Q3 this year.
The concept of the iPad Mini is not new. Talk of a pint-sized counterpart to the original iPad can probably be found as far back as the original iPad itself, but it wasn't until rival companies put their efforts into creating a more diverse tablet market that rumours really started to spread.
Amazon's Android-running Kindle Fire has been making waves in the US with its smaller 7" screen size and lower price-point, two aspects that many think Apple could put into a tablet of its own as a recipe for success.
According to Chinese site NetEase, Apple does in fact fully intend to create such a tablet as clues to the production of a possible iPad Mini are already emerging. The site claims that a number of Chinese companies with capable production lines have already been approached, including Hon Hai Precision (aka Foxconn) who are known for having produced a number of other Apple components, along with Pegatron, (a former subsidiary of Asustek) a company who has previously worked with Google to produce Android tablets.
The iPad Mini is expected to utilise a 7.85" screen with either a 1280x960 pixel or 1600x960 pixel resolution, a first for an iOS device. Pricing would sit somewhere in the region of $249 to $299 (around £160 to £190) and the first batch of 6 million tablets is possibly going to appear in Q3, later this year.
Of course as fleshed-out as this rumour may have become, it's worth noting that it is still a rumour. ZDNet.com argue that it doesn't yet make financial sense for Apple to release another tablet product as sales of both the new iPad and the iPad 2 are still highly prevalent and introducing a new device - aimed at the same market segment - would only hurt sales of their existing lineup.
Until the year draws on we're left in the dark regarding the authenticity of the iPad Mini, but come late Q2/early Q3, we should hopefully have a far clearer picture of what we can expect from Apple this year.