Apple is readying invitations that will reach media inboxes Oct. 10 for an Oct. 17 event during which it will introduce the iPad Mini, according to a report from CNN Money.
"This is a rumor we have no reason to believe excect it comes from a major Apple investor who says he's heard it from 'multiple sources,'" wrote Philip Elmer-DeWitt.
He added that an Oct. 17 event suggests, in keeping with Apple protocol, a Nov. 2 release date.
With such an arrival date, the Mini—the speculated name for a speculated smaller version of the iPad—could officially kick off the holiday shopping season.
The device is expected to feature a 7.85-inch display—making it a tad more square than the generally paperback-shaped competitors in the 7-inch tablet market—and to be priced between $249 and $299.
Investment firm Jefferies told investors Sept. 25 that it expects an iPad Mini launch in late October and for Apple to sell 8 million of the tiny tablets during the fourth quarter. While the firm doesn't expect the Mini to greatly affect sales of the iPad 3, it dialed back estimates for the iPad 2 from 8.5 million to 6 million and boosted its overall fourth-quarter Apple tablet sales estimate from 20.7 million units to 26 million units.
Due to the timing of the iPad Mini's launch, Jefferies also expects Apple to push its introduction of an iTV to the first quarter of 2013.
News of the invitation comes with what are said to be leaked images of an iPad Mini mockup, via Japanese site Macotakara, via MacRumors. The latter reports that the bezel around the display has been thinned, there's a Lightning port on the bottom and a headphone jack up top.
They cynics—or is it the savvy?—note that after a lull in the iPad Mini rumors, the images and invitation news come as Amazon has begun shipping two versions of the Kindle Paperwhite, e-readers that Amazon says are the most advanced e-readers ever built.
In an Oct. 1 statement, Jay Marine, vice president of Kindle, said that preorders "far exceeded our expectations."
The Paperwhite measures 6.7 by 4.6 by 0.36 inches, weighs 7.5 ounces and offers 8 weeks (yes, weeks) of battery life. While it doesn't pretend to be a tablet or offer tablet functionality—though a version does offer 3G connectivity—its $119 price tag, and the overwhelmingly enthusiastic reviews offered by media outlets from NBC News to Gizmodo, suggest that it will compete with the iPad Mini for holiday shopping dollars.
Until then, Amazon will ship and promote as aggressively as is possible and Apple, in all likelihood—the rumor mill did, after all, get right the announcement and sales date of the iPhone 5—will prepare its invitations, ready its event, work like mad on its Maps app and do its best to control the damage around iOS 6.