After the release of the much-awaited iPad in March, Apple lovers are desperately waiting for the launch of another flagship iPhone, popularly dubbed the iPhone 5. At the same time, rumors of the launch of another small-sized iPad are also gaining traction.

In a report published by Kotaku, the website mentioned that a Chinese website NetEase claimed that a mini iPad will be released later this year and will compete against Windows 8 tablets.

Earlier, a technology news website TechnoBuffalo citing John Gruber of Daring Fireball revealed that Apple was not only planning to roll out a smaller version of the iPad, but also had a 7.85-inch iPad in its labs. Gruber, however, was uncertain about the release date of the device. But, according to latest rumors, the mini iPad is expected to hit retail stores in the Q3.

What I do know is that they have one in the lab, a 7.85-inch iPad that runs at 1024 x 768. And it's just like the 9.7-inch iPad shrunk down a little bit. The apps wouldn't need to be redesigned or recompiled to work on it - it's just the iPad smaller, Gruber said.

Rumors about a smaller iPad have been in the market since last year December, when reports came that Apple had purchased 7.85-inch panels from LG Display and AU Optronics. Again in February, the Wall Street Journal claimed to have a source who confirmed that Apple was testing the new, smaller screen line of tablets.

Why a Mini Version of the iPad?

Smaller tabs like Amazon's Kindle Fire, Barnes & Noble's Nook Tablet and Samsung's Galaxy Tab series (7-inch tablets) are doing quite well in the market. According to Amazon, over 4.7 million Kindles were sold in the month of December, the bulk of which were Fires.

An IDC report also revealed that despite Apple's undisputable dominance in the tablet market, the Cupertino-based tech giant has witnessed a major drop in the figures of market share. From 61.5 percent figure recorded in the previous quarter, Apple in the last quarter of the last year stood at 54.7 percent of the global market. IDC said the drop in the percentage of market share happened mainly due to the launch of Kindle Fire.

The attractive $199 price tag was one of the major reasons for the Fire to win over Apple. However, as far as the features are concerned, the Amazon slate received a rather lukewarm response.

Apple's biggest rival in the smartphone market, the Korean electronics giant Samsung also has launched a series of small-sized tablets. The lineup includes Galaxy Tab 7.0, Galaxy Tab 7.0 Plus, Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the latest Galaxy Tab 7.0 2.

Although reports indicate that the company had never matched its target in terms of selling these small tablet units, Apple's absence in the small tablet segment still makes a difference in the market. Therefore, looking at the success stories of these sub-$300 tablets by companies like Amazon and Barnes and Noble, including Samsung (although not as successful as the other two, one of the major reasons being its steep price), Apple also plans to dip its toes in the market.

iDownloadBlog reports Google too might introduce a competitively priced Nexus tablet later this year.

How Can Mini iPad do Better than Kindle Fire and Galaxy Tab 7.0?

In March, an unnamed Samsung official reportedly told The Korea Times that Apple is all set enter into the smaller tablet market by the end of the year by launching a small iPad with a 7.85-inch screen.

An Apple tablet can do better than any other tablets with features such as:

  • A 7.85-inch display with Retina resolution
  • A possible 3G connectivity
  • Reduced price tag of $199 (however, it is rumored that the price tag will still be on the higher side and will be between $249 and $299)
  • iOS 6
  • Better Siri (not a voice dictation like the one in the New iPad)

As we all know that the late Steve Jobs had once slammed the idea of a smaller tablet, but in the post-Jobs era, a smaller iPad has become indispensible for the company to be in the race of small tablets.

Apple, however, has maintained silence over the plan of releasing the small iPad.