The second worst-kept secret in the technology world this year, the launch of Apple's latest tablet, the so-called iPad Mini, is widely considered to occur Oct. 23, a little more than a month after Apple took the wraps off this year's worst-kept secret in technology—the iPhone 5. Rumors and speculation about the iPad Mini have been flooding in from sources around the globe, prompting a firestorm of speculation as to what the device will (and won't) be capable of doing, whether it will succeed and how it will alter the tablet landscape—something most everyone can agree a new Apple product would do.
At this point in time, the iPad Mini is assumed to have a 7.85-inch display, about the same size as Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet or Google's Nexus 7 tablet. However, the iPad Mini is also expected to have a lower resolution than the 9.7-inch high-definition Retina display on the full-size iPad. The smaller device is also likely to feature a Lightening connector port, which recently debuted on the iPhone 5, on the bottom of the tablet. A report from tech site Geeky-Gadgets quoted unnamed sources saying the device would actually hit store shelves Nov. 2, in time for the lucrative holiday shopping season.
A screen shot allegedly showing pricing for the iPad Mini is one of the latest bits of unconfirmed information to leak out. The photo, posted by tech blog MobileGeeks, shows a consumer electronics retail inventory page that the site's source said is used by the European big-box retail chains Saturn and Media Markt. The page shows various versions of the smaller iPad tablet in black and white casing options and 8, 16, 32 and 64GB models with WiFi connectivity and cellular radios, with prices starting at 249 euros (approximately $322.60) for an 8GB iPad Mini with WiFi only.
A research note from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, posted on technology blog AllThingsD, predicted Apple could sell 25 million iPads through December, with the iPad Mini representing 5 million of the shipped Apple tablets. However, the popularity of the iPad Mini could come at the expense of the larger iPad. "We believe that the smaller iPad could cannibalize 1 million regular iPad units in December, or a rate of cannibalization at 20 percent," Munster wrote. "[So] for every 5 million smaller iPads, you lose 1 million standard iPads."
The full-size iPad, which starts at $499 and represents 68 percent of the worldwide tablet market, faces increasing competition from Amazon's Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7, both of which retail for less than $200 and feature smaller displays. Google could also unveil a 32GB Nexus tablet on Oct. 29 that would retail for just $99, making the market even more competitive. A survey from Pricegrabber earlier this year indicated consumers would be willing to pay a bit more than $200 for an iPad Mini, but were looking for features like a high-definition display and 3G wireless connectivity.
Another entry into the increasingly crowded tablet field is Microsoft's Surface, which runs the company's Windows RT operating system and goes on sale Oct. 26. Initially available in three flavors, a 32GB version priced at $499, a 32GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover priced at $599, and a 64GB version bundled with a black Touch Cover priced at $699, the device features a 10.6-inch display, two 720p high-definition cameras, as well as a Touch Cover, which clicks into the tablet to provide a slim, spill-resistant keyboard for typing.