The Apple-product rumor mill constantly produces enthusiastic speculation, but lately tech bloggers have coalesced around the notion that the company is prepping an iPad Mini to be released in time for the holidays. The product, which would bridge the gap between the pocket-sized iPhone and the first-generation 9.7-inch iPad, will supposedly be released as a 7-inch version. The primary reason for this, according to commentators, would be to outflank the hordes of competitors who are releasing smaller, similar devices and also to directly compete with Amazon's Kindle on a platform better suited to e-book consumers. Pundits eagerly dissect the latest rumors:

  • Apple Is Out-Maneuvering Its Competitors who are releasing tablets with similar screen sizes later this year, writes Kit Eaton at Fast Company. A smaller iPad solves,"one of the minor gripes that some users have about the initial device: That it weighs a fraction too much to hold after a while. Peering at the guts of the first iPad, it was clear that there was a lot of empty space inside the thing, so it's easy to imagine all the battery and electronics tech being squeezed into a smaller shell." The rumored iPad would also appeal to a different audience.
  • Oh God, I Hope Not was the first reaction from Joshua Schnell at Macgasm, who finds the impending iPad a "super bad idea" because early-adopters of the device may find themselves already owning an outdated product. He writes, "Having the latest gadgets provides quite a buzz, but, even though I know it’s irrational, having them release version 2.0 of the same device within a year boils my blood. It’s hard to feel like it’s not a cash grab."
  • Take It With a Grain of Salt  explains Jeremy Horwitz at iLounge, before the editor dishes out the details on the rumored iPad: "A seven-inch-screened version of the iPad is substantially finished and will be ready for announcement either later this year or early in 2011. Apple has been prototyping devices with screens of this size for a long time—quite possibly predating the original iPhone."
  • Now It Can Compete With the Kindle, which has a six inch screen, notes Brier Dudley at The Seattle Times. It "will have a 7-inch diagonal touchscreen, potentially making the device small enough to fit into a purse or large coat pocket and closer in size to Amazon's standard Kindle, which has a 6-inch screen...A smaller iPad would be more portable and presumably cheaper and lighter, improving its odds of being chosen by people shopping for an electronic reading device."
  • All Signs Point Toward an Early 2011 Launch theorizes Kelly Hodgkins at IntoMobile. "Hints of the production of a 7-inch and even a 5-inch Apple tablet have been floating around since the initial iPad rumors hit the rumor mill last year," she writes. "This consistent stream of rumors suggests that Apple has been designing the iPad with alternate screen sizes from the inception of the product."