I was all set to write a “Where’s the iPad mini?” type feature this morning, but Apple has only gone and thrown a spanner in the proverbial works.
See, the Californians have fired out invites for a mysterious launch event on October 23, next Tuesday, and it sounds very much like the iPad mini will be in attendance.
Rumoured new Apple products include a 13in Retina MacBook Pro, and possibly a new Mac Mini. But where does that leave the iPad mini? Well, it sounds like the diminutive tablet will in fact be the star of the show.
The giveaway is in Apple’s invite, which teases: “We’ve got a little more to show you,” with the emphasis – we believe – on “little”.
In typical Apple fashion, it’s not giving anything else away in its October 23 invite, other than the time (10am Pacific) and location (California theatre, San Jose).
However, when AllThings D reported last week: “People familiar with Apple’s plans tell us that the company will unveil the so-called ‘iPad mini’ on Oct. 23 at an invitation-only event,” The Loop’s Jim Dalrymple added his trademark “yep”.
So it’s looking like the iPad mini launch is very much a go-er. Indeed, at this stage, we’d be incredibly surprised if the iPad mini didn’t make an appearance next week.
Furthermore, a Geeky Gadgets exclusive screams that the iPad mini release date will be November 2 – that’s two weeks on Friday. That’d certainly fit in with the usual Apple timescales.
The chaps tell us the source “is someone close to a major UK retailer, and has been reliable in the past,” specifically with regards to iPhone 5 info.
The source also reckons the iPad mini pre-order date will “possibly” be October 26, the Friday after launch, however he’s not 100% sure on that.
As for iPad mini specs, they remain a mystery at this stage. The iPad mini display is expected to measure 7.85in diagonally, though some rumourmongers are less committed, suggesting “between 7in and 8in”.
Other iPad mini specs are thought to include, er, an iPhone 5-style Lightning connector. Omitting a rear camera would shave a little off the price, but we’d be surprised if there wasn’t something on the front.
iPad mini price is similarly vague. We reckon those £200 estimates are a tad low, though the 16GB Amazon Kindle Fire HD and 8GB Google Nexus 7 start at £159. The iPad 2, meanwhile, goes for £329.
The late Steve Jobs was famously outspoken about 7in tablets, saying: "There are clear limits of how close you can physically place elements on a touchscreen before users cannot reliably tap, flick or pinch them.
"This is one of the key reasons we think the 10in screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps... 7in tablets are tweeners, too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with an iPad."
However, that was way back in October 2010, almost a year before the Amazon Kindle Fire came along and shook things up. Well, a little.
Amazon sells the Kindle Fire at break-even prices, instead making money from its Amazon-flavoured content drive. The original Amazon Kindle Fire reportedly sold a million units per week in December 2011. Not too shabby.
And not forgetting the Asus-built Google Nexus 7. It packs a quad-core processor and debuted Jelly Bean (Android 4.1). Carphone Warehouse recently announced the Google Nexus 7 was their “biggest selling Android tablet”. Er, wouldn’t be hard.
Anyway, you can see why Apple would feel compelled to address the “tweener” market.
In conclusion: iPad mini launch? Tuesday, October 23. iPad mini release date? Friday, November 2. iPad mini specs? Uhm, 7.85in display. iPad mini price? Probably £250ish.
We’ll find out for sure on Tuesday next week. Only six days to go…