New Delhi: While Apple officially has not yet said anything about the smaller version of the iPad tablet, reports about the launch of the iPad Mini tablet are doing rounds on the Internet. According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, Apple has ordered more than 10 million units of the iPad mini tablet, to be shipped in the fourth quarter of this year.
"Some component suppliers to Apple in Asia say they have received orders to make more than 10 million units of the smaller tablets in the fourth quarter. That is roughly double the order that were placed for Amazon's Kindle Fire tablets in the same quarter, these suppliers say," said the report.
Last week, it was reported that the mass production of a smaller and cheaper version of Apple's iPad Mini has started. Asia-based LG Display and AU Optronics have already began manufacturing the LCD screens for Apple's new device in September, Xinhua quoted The Wall Street Journal as saying.
Apple has kept the screen size of its iPad unchanged at 9.7 inches since the product debuted in January 2010. In comparison, a smaller Apple tablet will feature a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display with a lower resolution than the latest iPad, according to the Journal.
The launch of a smaller iPad is seen as Apple's move to stay competitive against rivals such as Google and Amazon, which have introduced 7-inch tablets at just $200. The cheapest iPad starts from nearly $400. A smaller tablet would help Apple further its lead in the tablet market. Apple has successfully fended off competitors who have tried to sell tablets in iPad's size range.
The Fortune magazine reported that Apple is rumoured to be sending out press invitation on October 10 to a special event, which might be on October 17 to unveil a smaller iPad. Apple has not yet commented on the reports.
Apple still dominates the global tablet market, but rivals are closing in. Google unveiled the Nexus 7 in July to strong reviews. And Amazon's Kindle Fire tablet, with a price tag about half the iPad's, has encroached on Apple's market share. Analysts say smaller, cheaper tablets entice cost-conscious buyers unwilling to spend $500 or more for an iPad.
Documents presented in court during the recent high-profile Apple versus Samsung patent trial revealed that the Steve Jobs was receptive to Apple making a smaller tablet. Steve Jobs had once criticised the 7-inch tablet size, saying that it was too small for a pleasant touchscreen experience. "7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad," said Jobs, adding "they are going to be DOA - dead on arrival".