The iPad Mini rumour mill just kicked up a gear, stamping its foot on the accelerator.
Because the latest speculation, according to Chinese website NetEase (via Kotaku), is that the 7.85 inch tablet is indeed on its way, and will be released in the third quarter of this year.
And what’s more, a target price has been named – it’s likely to cost as little as $250 or perhaps $299. Obviously the whole point would be to produce a budget conscious slate to target those who have been picking up cheap Android tablets, such as the Kindle Fire, launched by Amazon late last year.
NetEase notes that the third quarter target release date would also run interference with the launch of Microsoft Windows 8 tablets, so could be a double whammy for Apple in this respect.
Let’s not get too carried away yet, although the rumour smoke is getting so thick now, the likelihood of a fire – or rather, a rival to the Fire – is definitely increasing.
Allegedly, Apple will have 6 million units of its smaller slate ready to roll come Q3, so it would appear to be serious about dominating the budget tablet market, as well as the premium slate scene.
The smaller tablet was once rubbished by Steve Jobs as not having a big enough screen to create a satisfying app experience, although he was talking about Samsung’s 7 inch rival slate at the time.
The rumoured iPad Mini is a little bigger at pushing 8 inches, but still some way off the full-fat iPad.