The rumors have been around for weeks that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) was planning to unveil something big this month: a smaller iPad. Now the rumor mill is churning after the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that the tinier, cheaper version of the popular tablet is in production.

The so-called iPad Mini is reported to have a 7.85-inch liquid crystal display, which is slightly smaller than the 9-inch version currently selling with a starting price of $499.

It’s been rumored for weeks that Apple is planning to unveil an iPad Mini in October. In August, schematics of the new device were bouncing around the tech blogs.

The new device would most certainly be Apple’s attempt to elbow into the cheaper/smaller tablet market. Seattle-based Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) unveiled last month the 7.44-inch Kindle Fire tablet with a starting price of $159. Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) of Mountain View, Calif., currently sells a 7-inch Android-driven tablet for $199.

Apple is mum on the rumors, allowing the rumors flying on the Internet to act as promotion. The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant unveiled its Apple iPhone 5 last month and possibly didn’t want to unveil two new products on the same date.

Here’s what Apple watchers and others are saying about the rumored iPad Mini:

Media invites will be sent out by Apple next week for an Oct. 17 announcement, the Cult of Mac blog said.

The smaller device is rumored to have a $300 price point (or would that be $299?), according to WebProNews, compared with $499 for the current tablet. The aim would be to enter the market for cheaper tablets, such as the Nexus 7 Android tablet, which itself could see a $99 version before the end of the year.

A video was posted to YouTube last week by a Japanese tech site that allegedly depicts a mock-up of the device.

On Tuesday, the Apple Insider blog posted images purported to be parts for the smaller iPad, and Gizmodo pointed out two dock connectors suggesting the gadget will come in both black and white.

The iPad Mini could be on sale by Nov. 2, according to Fortune.