Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), the world's most valuable technology company, may introduce a smaller version of the iPad to compete with products from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), the No. 1 search engine, and Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), the No. 1 e-retailer, a report said.

A kind of 'iPad Jr with a screen only 7 inches by 8 inches diagonally without a high-definition screen -- something like an iPad Jr -- might be shipped in the fourth quarter, a Bloomberg News report said.

Representatives of Apple, in Cupertino, Calif., declined comment. Apple by custom doesn't discuss forthcoming products.

Google next week will start shipping its Nexus 7 tablet for $199, seven months after Amazon first shipped its comparably priced Kindle Fire. As well, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT), the world's biggest software company, has announced it will ship the Surface tablet sometime in the second half.

If so, the tablet strategy would resemble Apple's strategy with the iPhone 4S. After last October's introduction of the $199 phone, the company kept selling less-functional iPhone 3s for less to maintain market share.

Apple shares opened up $2.270 at $602.71 in Thursday trading.