‘iPad Mini’ Billed as a Nexus 7 Killer

Apple is prepping a smaller iPad to take on tablets from competitors like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.

The “iPad Mini” would supposedly sport a 7- or 8-inch screen, reduced from the 9.7-incher on all three generations of Apple’s existing tablet, according to a pair of unnamed sources cited by the news agency. The smaller iPad could be announced in October and released in time for the holidays, according to Bloomberg.

The current iPad iPad is famous for its high-resolution Retina display, but the rumored Mini would have a cheaper screen, according to Bloomberg’s sources. That could be key if Apple is truly positioning a smaller tablet against the likes of Google’s recently unveiled Nexus 7 built by Asus and Amazon’s Kindle Fire. Those two 7-inch tablets start at just $199, as compared with the iPad’s starting price of $499.

Apple could also face some competition from the first Windows 8-based tablets due out before the end of the year, including Microsoft’s own Surface, which the company to make itself to help kick start its next-generation operating system. The Surface is a larger tablet, however, and its rumored starting price is north of the iPad’s&151though Windows 8 tablets from other vendors may be smaller and cheaper.

Meanwhile, a smaller iPad would fly in the face of the late Steve Jobs’ contention that Apple’s tablet is the perfect size as is and anything smaller is essentially unusable, as Slate’s Farhad Manjoo noted last week.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Jobs was right (Manjoo doesn’t think so) or that Apple remains beholden to his more entrenched viewpoints. But it’s worth remembering that Apple still rules the tablet roost with its one and only iPad. The company has no track record of being so reactionary as to build a new product just because a would-be rival is hawking an as-yet unproven device like the Nexus 7.

We’ve been down this road with Apple rumors before. Whether they’ve tipped a netbook-sized Mac laptop or a bigger iPhone, they don’t often pan out.

For more from Damon, follow him on Twitter @dpoeter.

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