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iPad mini: Now may not be the time

Dan Moren | Oct. 4, 2012
The furor over the iPhone 5's launch has started to die down, but the rumor mill can only be sated temporarily. Whispers have been swelling that Apple plans to introduce a smaller iPad--an iPad mini, they say--with a 7.85-inch screen. And now that speculation has a date attached to it: October 10 is rumored to be the day when Apple will issue invitations for a mid-month press event where it will announce its new tablet.

But I wonder if the rumors don't already help with that. If you're in the market for a smaller tablet right now, and you've been hearing that Apple might come out with a 7.85-inch iPad, you might think twice before rushing out to buy a Kindle or waiting for the yet-to-be-priced Surface tablet from Microsoft. (Unless, of course, you have your heart set on one of those devices for platform reasons.)

I'm sure we all agree that Apple can probably sell plenty of smaller iPads no matter when it introduces them. But the longer it waits, the more opportunity it has to keep its competitors guessing about which specs they need to compete with. To put it another way, right now, Apple clearly controls the game.

Dateline in the sand

I don't see Apple announcing the iPad mini this month, but if there's one thing I've learned in my years of covering Cupertino's every move, it's that the company doesn't always act the way you expect it to. You expect them to zig, they zag; you expect them to introduce a world-beating new product, and you get iPod socks or Ping.

I'm sure there's more behind Apple's idea of the iPad mini than what I've described here, something so clever and obvious that I'll slap my head and exclaim, "Of course! This was always the only option!" Maybe there's a key piece of information that I'm lacking that will tie this whole October launch-date scenario together. In fact, I suspect that from an inevitability-quantum-mechanics-Schrödinger's-iPad-mini standpoint, simply by putting myself out there, I've probably ensured that an Apple invitation will land in my mailbox next week.

But if that doesn't happen, just remember that you heard it here first.


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