Apple iPad Mini With 7-Inch Screen Debuts in October: Report

The iPad Mini, sporting a 7-inch screen and a price point between $200-$250, is expected to launch in October, according to a report.

Another day, another rumor about the 7-inch Apple €œiPad Mini,€ this time from the Mac blog iMore, which quotes unnamed sources as saying Apple is going to release the device in October, at an ultra-low price point somewhere between $200-$250. That would put the device in direct competition with Amazon€™s 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet, which is priced at $199 and runs Google's Android operating system. The new iPad, released in March, starts at $499 but offers a high-resolution Retina display and several other premium features.

The latest report is the latest in a long line of rumors regarding a smaller version of the popular iPad, which has revived and dominated the tablet market since its first incarnation. A recent survey from Pricegrabber suggests that though Apple has shown no official interest in building a 7-inch iPad (Steve Jobs was famously dismissive of the idea), consumers are quite interested in buying one.

Slightly more than half (52 percent) of the survey respondents said they would consider purchasing an iPad Mini for approximately $250 to $300, likely making the rumored lower price point even more enticing. Indeed, 64 percent of those surveyed said a price point lower than that on the new iPad or iPad 2 would be a top consideration, followed by those who wanted a smaller, more portable size (54 percent).

Micahel Oh, CEO and founder of Apple care specialist TechSuperpowers, remains skeptical about the device, citing analysis about the Kindle Fire. He says Amazon is probably breaking even or even losing money on the product, because Amazon€™s play is to nail the 7-inch tablet market before anyone else does, and make its money on the ecosystem. Oh says if Apple was going to chase that space, the logic would be the same.

€œThey would be doing it to nail as much of that market before anyone else was out there. It€™s a very opportunistic play, and I don€™t really see Apple doing that. It€™s a very non-Apple move, but they can afford to do a play like that to acquire market share,€ he explains. €œThe real downside is, it takes away from the perception that they make premium devices. There would be no Retina display, a standard resolution camera, middle-of-the-road processing power. There would be a lot of sacrifices Apple would have to make in order to engineer the device. That€™s why I don€™t think they€™re ultimately going to do it.€

Oh says that due to the company€™s massive popularity and staggering wealth€”Apple has more cash on hand than the U.S. government€”this is a critical point for Apple. €œIf they did decide to go down this road, a lot of people would buy the stock, but in my opinion, that€™s when you sell. That€™s when they€™re starting to become a commodity manufacturer,€ he says. €œThey€™ve always avoided [becoming that] with everything that they do. It would show a really different turn for Apple as an organization and I think it would destroy the perception that they€™ve built. I don€™t see that as being at all their brand strategy.€