The latest rumors have Apple's smaller iPad launching before the end of 2012.
Earlier this year, the Apple rumor mill was mainly focused on churning out iPad 3 reports. However, there were a couple of other devices being talked about at the time. One of them was the now available Apple TV (not to be confused with the as-yet-unconfirmed Apple HDTV), and the other was the possibility of a smaller scale iPad. Last we heard, Apple was preparing to launch a smaller iPad and would put the product into production towards the end of this year, giving Cupertino plenty of time to launch the device in the first quarter of next year. Today, we hear yet more talk of the smaller iPad, but this rumor says it will arrive before the end of the year.
According to a Chinese report translated by gaming site Kotaku, Apple will launch an 7.85-inch iPad Mini in the third quarter of this year. Chinese net portal NetEase reports that Apple is aiming to launch the tablet in time for the onslaught of Windows tablets that are expected this fall. Of course, it stands to reason that a smaller device should bring a smaller pricetag, and NetEase says we can expect this iPad Mini to cost anywhere between $249 and $299 when it goes on sale.
While it's plausible that Apple is preparing to bring us a new smaller iPad, we can't help but remember all those reports of an iPhone Nano that have been coming and going in the years since the iPhone launched. We'll be taking this one with a grain of salt until we hear something a little more solid.