Apple iPad Mini Release May Be Near As Image Allegedly Leaks On Twitter [PHOTO]

 @LisaEadicicco on October 09 2012 11:20 AM

Apple’s Retina Display iPad topped three million sales in its first three days on the market, and increasing evidence indicates the computer design firm could attack the 7-inch tablet market share next. New images of what is believed to be the iPad Mini have surfaced online, further fueling rumors that have existed for months.

Sonny Dickson, researcher for Apple news blog 9to5Mac, posted the photos to his Twitter account on Monday. The legitimacy of these photos remains unclear, but the image gives Apple fans an idea of the iPad Mini’s size in comparison to its 9.7-inch predecessors. The purported miniature slate is seen placed face-down on top of a third-generation iPad in one photo, and appears to be slightly smaller than the screen of a standard Apple tablet.

Two rear speaker grills can be seen at the bottom of the alleged iPad Mini’s body, which differs from the single speaker featured on the current iPad. A port for the new Lightning mini dock connector that Apple introduced with its iPhone 5 is placed in between these two speaker grills, and Dickson also posted an image of the tinier tablet with the charger plugged in.

Dickson also posted images of the iPhone 5's Lightning dock connector port alongside that of the purported iPad Mini, illustrating that they are the same.

Anticipation for Apple’s alleged iPad Mini continues to build, as the company is expected to send out invitations to an event that will officially unveil the smaller tab. Invites are rumored to go out on Wednesday and the event is predicted to take place next week, but Apple has yet to make any official announcements.

In addition to being smaller in size, Apple’s iPad Mini is expected to sport a cheaper price tag. This puts it at direct competition with competing 7-inch tablets such as Google’s Nexus 7, Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD and the recently introduced Barnes & Noble Nook HD.

These tabs fall near the $200 range, and Apple will need to price its unannounced slate in the same spectrum to contest. The iPad Mini’s price is expected to land just above its rivals, making the $250 to $300 bracket a likely possibility.

However, when it comes to pricing the iPad Mini, Apple must choose whether it wants to crush the competition or maintain a dominant approach, an analyst said in August.

“And the price tag would be how they do that,” Rhoda Alexander of IHS iSuppli said to CNET. ‘[A price of $299] would sit in a more comfortable place as far as profit.”

Industry experts have said that demand for Google's Nexus 7 tablet, as well as Samsung’s Galaxy Note device, which will see the release of its successor in the coming weeks, prove that smaller tabs are becoming increasingly popular.

“It makes sense for market leader Apple to extend its dominance in tablets with a smaller tablet, Capital Securities analyst Diana Wu told The Wall Street Journal.

RBS analyst Wanil Wang agrees with Alexander’s opinion on price, saying that Apple is sure to do well if it prices its iPad Mini similarly to its competitors.

“iPad Mini will be a big hit if Apple prices it below $300,” Wang said.

Although a pricing point has yet to be decided, Apple appears to be going big with its mini tab in terms of sales predictions. Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal also reported that Apple component suppliers in Asia have received orders to make more than 10 million iPad Mini units in the fourth quarter. This is approximately double the order that was placed on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets in the same quarter.

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