Apple iPad Mini rumor roundup
Rumors continue to swirl about Apple's iPad Mini. The latest chatter suggests an Oct. 17 launch date.
Rumors that Apple (AAPL) is moving ahead with development of an iPad Mini continue to abound the Internet, and that's got folks speculating about what the device will look like and what features it's likely to include.
As a service to TheStreet's readers, we've decided to round up some of the more intriguing Apple iPad Mini chatter that's making the rounds in the blogosphere. Citing an unnamed investor source, CNNMoney reports that Apple will send out invitations Oct. 10 for the event, with the actual announcement coming Oct. 17.
Eric Jackson, co-founder at Ironfire Capital is positive on the prospects of an iPad Mini. "I think this is a slice of the tablet market that appeals to some users who want a smaller form factor to take with them on the go. I'm expecting the same functionality in a smaller form factor. I'm expecting it comes in at $299 making it pricier than Kindle and Google but with better functionality," Jackson said in an email with TheStreet.
This is what consumers could expect from the device, rumored to make its debut later this year:
What It Will Look Like
Several images of the device's potential appearance have already shown up on the Web.
Most expect the iPad Mini will have a screen size around 7-inches, as competitors such as Google (GOOG), Barnes & Noble (BKS), Samsung and Amazon (AMZN) try to attack the iPad's dominance. The iPad has 68% of the tablet market per IDC.
The smaller tablet may also be slightly thinner than the iPad 2, and have a similar thickness to the iPod Touch. The iPod Touch has a thickness of just 7.2 millimeters
It's also possible that Apple may include its A5X chip in the new device that is currently exclusive to the new iPad, as well as front and rear cameras. It's not yet known whether the smaller device would have Long Term Evolution (LTE) capabilities, Retina Display, or if it would come in multiple models, ala the iPad 2 and the new iPad.
The China Syndrome
Apple's competitors have been releasing smaller form-factor tablets as they try to take market share away from Apple, to no avail. Even Microsoft (MSFT) has entered the tablet market with its Surface tablet, as it seeks to compete with Apple. (Microsoft owns and publishes TechBiz, an MSN Money site.)
A smaller tablet would no doubt be less costly, and that could help Apple expand its presence, especially as China continues to play a larger role in the Cupertino, Calif.-based company's future.
Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White believes an iPad Mini would expand Apple's reach to price-sensitive customers and says some customers would likely enjoy the convenience of a smaller, lighter tablet. White also feels the education market would be "well suited" for a smaller iPad.
Channing Smith, portfolio manager at Capital Advisors Growth Fund, thinks the device could sell around $249 on the low end and notes it would give more consumers access to Apple's products.
"The [iPad] Mini expands Apple's addressable market worldwide, especially in developing markets where lower-priced products take the lion's share of the market share," said Smith, who disclosed that Apple is the largest holding in the Capital Advisors Growth Fund, in an email to TheStreet.
Analysts have begun to include the iPad Mini in their sales estimates, further adding credence to the rumor that the device is forthcoming. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster wrote in a recent research report Apple could sell anywhere between 4 million and 6 million units of its rumored iPad Mini in the holiday quarter.
With analysts baking the device into sales projections, leaks from the supply chain, and various newspaper reports hinting at the device, it certainly looks like Apple is cooking up a smaller iPad. And given Apple's penchant for producing hits, this recipe could be as tasty as Mom's apple pie.
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