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iPad Mini: Apple to Launch New Low-Cost iPads?

Rumors have now surfaced about Apple preparing to unveil the '"iPad Mini" iOS device, which is sure to rival Amazon's upcoming "Kindle Fire" tablet.

This new low-cost model of Apple's "iPad" computer tablet is said to be releasing in the first few months of 2012.

Sources have told CNET that Apple is prepping for a 7-inch version of its tablet. Some say this move is Apple's way of setting up a challenge for Amazon's new "Kindle Fire" tablet.

Several other 7- and 8.9-inch tablets are already on the market from companies such as Samsung and HTC.

Analyst Brian White of Ticonderoga Securities says he's heard the rumors of this smaller "iPad" model. But he says the "iPad Mini" name is actually referring to the new low price instead of its smaller size.

In a note to investors, White had this to say: "We believe this lower priced iPad could be priced in the mid-to-high-$200 range. We expect this will be followed by a much more powerful, feature rich standard-priced iPad 3 in (the second quarter of 2012)."

White also feels that a low-cost iPad could lead to big sales in China and other developing parts of the world. He also believes there is a major market opportunity in developed areas like the U.S. and Europe.

Former CEO of Apple Steve Jobs was not very fond of 7-inch computer tablets, however.

During an October 2010 press conference, he was quoted as saying that current tablets' screen size was entirely too small for users. He also stated that the manufacturers of those devices would need to ship sandpaper with their 7-inch tablets so users could file down their fingers to the point where they could hit smaller targets on the screen.

Jobs also made it clear that "Apple has done extensive user testing and we really understand this stuff...There are clear limits on how close you can place things on a touch screen, which is why we think 10 inch is the minimum screen size to create great tablet apps."

Even with Jobs' previous comments and Brian White's Apple product predictions, an actual "iPad Mini" could be very beneficial for Apple's future.

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