Loosening the iPad's iron grip on the tablet market has proven to be a difficult task for would-be usurpers to the mobile throne; in May, IDC reported that the iPad accounted for 68 percent of all tablet shipments in the first quarter of the year. One area that's seen some Android success is the low-cost, 7-inch niche, where offerings like the Nook Tablet, the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 have attracted considerable consumer interest.
That attention may have roused the tablet king to action: several sources have told Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal that Apple is developing an "iPad mini" of its own with a screen size somewhere between 7 and 8 inches.
Bloomberg's sources say the iPad mini won't have a Retina Display in order to keep costs down and compete with the $200 price tag of the Kindle Fire and the Nexus 7 tablet. They expect Apple to announce the pint-sized tablet as early as October… which would fit right in with the tidbits leaked by the WSJ's sources.
That newspaper's insiders come from within Apple component supply chain, and they claim that Apple has told its suppliers -- including LG Display and AU Optronics -- to be ready for the mass production of a tablet with a screen size under 8 inches, starting this September.
Rumors of a smaller iPad have been floating around for months, but this is the first time they've been mentioned by sources for a major publication. Apple, unsurprisingly, has yet to comment.