Mini iPad set for release by end of 2012: report

An iPad with a 7.85-inch screen is allegedly due to arrive here by the end of the year. But is the iPad "Mini" for real? 

Is a smaller iPad slated for release later this year?

On Friday, Apple will officially launch its latest iPad

And a second iPad – this one a little more portable – could follow close behind. Speaking to the Korea Times this week, an official with Samsung, which supplies some parts to Apple, claimed an iPad with a 7.85-inch screen is set to hit shelves by the end of 2012. (Hat tip to the Washington Post for the link.) Samsung and Apple are currently locked in a legal battle over patents, but the official said Samsung would continue to work with Apple through 2014. 

Standard caveats apply: Apple has said nothing about an "iPad Mini," and the Korea Times article has no substantiation. That said, rumors of a smaller iPad have been circulating for a while now: In December, for instance, the Korean paper DigiTimes also reported on the existence of an iPad with a 7.85-inch screen, and placed the release window in the fourth quarter of this year.  

Moreover, it makes sense that Apple would want to sell tablet computers in a variety of sizes. The current iPad – the one shipping on Friday – is equipped with a 9.7-inch display, making the machine perfect for movie watching, but difficult to stuff in a purse or jacket pocket. The Amazon Kindle Fire, on the other hand, has a 7-inch display and a smaller frame and a whole lot of portability. 

The Kindle Fire is reportedly selling very well indeed. Apple isn't stupid. Faced with a challenge from Amazon, the logical response would be to box out its competition, and the best way to box out the competition is to create a device that goes head-to-head with the Fire on price and size. (Nothing has been said about the price on this as-of-yet-imaginary iPad Mini, but presumably the thing would be cheaper than the new iPad.) 

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