Apple's 'iPad Mini' continues to draw buzz ahead of rumored launch

Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) rumored smaller tablet, dubbed the "iPad Mini" may eclipse the larger iPad tablet in terms of design, according to an analyst.

Topeka analyst Brian White traveled to Taiwan to chat with Apple suppliers and has come away impressed.  "Apple did not skimp on the aesthetics of the much anticipated 'iPad Mini,'" White wrote, according to AllThingsD. "In fact, we believe the 'iPad Mini' could outshine the new iPad in terms of how the device feels in a consumer's hands." The analyst's view, which is admittedly short on details, comes as new pictures of the smaller tablet have appeared online. Apple is rumored to be readying the device for an Oct. 17 unveiling.

As usual, Apple has not confirmed or commented on any of the rumors.

9to5Mac researcher Sonny Dickson posted photos of the iPad Mini and its news Lightning dock connector to his Twitter and Instagram accounts. The photos were posted after the Wall Street Journal reported that Apple's Asian suppliers have received orders to make more than 10 million units of the smaller iPad in the fourth quarter. The report said that figure is roughly double the order that were placed for Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets in the same quarter.

In August AllThingsD reported that Apple would announce an iPad with an 8-inch screen or smaller in October. That follows reports in July from Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal that Apple was in the final stages of preparing for the launch of a smaller iPad, which the reports said would likely have a 7-inch screen. The iPad has a  9.7-inch screen.

Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was "very receptive" to the idea of a 7-inch iPad, according to evidence submitted during the patent-infringement trial between Apple and Samsung Electronics. Apple executive Eddy Cue, now the company's senior vice president of Internet software and services, said in a January 2011 email to top executives that he had spoken with Jobs in recent months about the idea and that Jobs "seemed very receptive the last time." The disclosure was notable because in October 2010 Jobs lambasted the idea of a 7-inch tablet.

A smaller iPad would compete more directly with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7 and Amazon's Kindle Fire HD line. According to a recent report from the Pew Research Center, 52 percent of tablet owners reported having an iPad, down from 81 percent in Pew's 2011 survey. Android-based devices made up the remainder of the U.S. tablet market, the Pew survey found.

For more:
- see this AllThingsD article
- see this WSJ blog post (sub. req.)
- see this CNET article
- see this Computerworld article

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