iPad Mini rumors resurface ahead of new iPad rollout

iPad Mini rumors resurfaced on Monday as Apple also announced plans to roll out its latest iPad to 12 new countries this Friday

There's an interesting mix of iPad news and speculation floating around today.

First up, Kotaku, citing the Chinese web portal NetEase, reports that Apple is planning to release a smaller version of the iPad (dubbed the iPad Mini) sometime during the third quarter of 2012. The report claims that initial production for the rumored device will be in the 6 million unit range. While the article doesn't reference any screen size information, a number of previous reports have all hinted at a smaller iPad device sporting 7.85-inch screen. Price wise, the device will reportedly cost somewhere between $249 and $299.

Interestingly enough, it was just last week that the well-connected John Gruber of Daring Fireball revealed that Apple, according to a few of his sources, has a 7.85-inch iPad model it's been "noodling with" in its labs.

What I do know is that they have one in the lab…a 7.85 inch iPad that runs at 1024×768… it’s just like the 9.7" iPad shrunk down a little bit. Apps wouldn't need to be recompiled or redesigned to work optimally on it. It's just the iPad smaller.

Apple over the past few years has been pretty upfront about not wanting to price its products such that a price umbrella develops for the competition. That being the case, given that the iPad is currently the de facto tablet of choice in the marketplace, it makes sense for Apple to now target the lower end of the tablet market currently occupied and owned by the Kindle Fire. A smaller iPad at a lower price point would let consumers who can't otherwise afford or who aren't otherwise interested in a $499 tablet (or $399 iPad 2) get the premium iPad experience at a discount.

You might remember that Apple implemented a similar strategy with the iPod a few years back.

In other iPad news, Apple's latest iPad is set to land in South Korea and 11 other countries this coming Friday, April 20. The other countries scheduled to receive the new iPad treatment include  Brunei, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Malaysia, Panama, St Maarten, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Following that, Appel's iPad rollout will expand on April 27 to include Colombia, Estonia, India, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, South Africa and Thailand.

As a final point of interest, you might have seen that Apple's 4G claims regarding its latest iPad have been challenged by consumer watchdog groups in certain countries because the iPad, in fact, can only access 4G networks in North America. Consequently, Apple's press release regarding the ongoing iPad rollout now has a more conspicuous footnote noting that "4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the U.S. and on Bell, Rogers and Telus networks in Canada."

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