Apple's iPad Mini Now in Production, Report Claims

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Apple's (NASDAQ: AAPL ) Asian suppliers have reportedly begun to manufacture a smaller version of the company's tablet, indicating that a holiday 2012 release is still on the table. According to The Wall Street Journal , Apple is building an iPad Mini -- which will feature a 7.85-inch liquid-crystal display -- to stay competitive in the growing tablet market.

When the company launched the original iPad in 2010, Apple did not have many competitors. In the months that followed, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ ), Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM ), Motorola, Samsung and other tech giants attempted to compete by releasing their own tablets. Most of these devices failed due to high prices and a lack of compelling features.

That changed in 2011 when Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN ) released the Kindle Fire, the first widely successful seven-inch tablet. In just nine months, the device acquired 22 percent of the tablet market in the United States. It was frequently cited as the biggest-selling product on Amazon.com, prompting the company to release four new tablets this year.

Last month, Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS ) unveiled two new tablets -- the seven-inch Nook HD and the nine-inch Nook HD+. Days later, Hewlett-Packard came back to the market with a Windows 8 tablet for business customers.

During the summer, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG ) unveiled its first branded tablet, the Nexus 7. While that device is manufactured by Asus, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT ) announced that it would produce and manufacture its own tablet, Surface.

These are just some of the new competitors that have appeared this year. In 2013, there are sure to be more.

Analysts firmly believe that Apple could maintain a significant lead by releasing a low-cost version of the iPad Mini. Some reports suggest that the company will charge as little as $249.

In doing so, however, Apple would inadvertently place the iPad Mini in between the old and new models of the iPod Touch. Apple currently sells the last iteration for $199, while the new iPod Touch starts at $299.

There are rumors that Apple may get around the pricing issue by releasing an iPad Mini that features a low-resolution display. This could be somewhat disappointing to consumers who had expected the device to contain a Retina Display, which is currently featured in the third-generation iPad, the next-gen MacBook Pro and all current versions of the iPod Touch.

Follow me @LouisBedigianBZ

(c) 2012 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.



The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



This article appears in: Investing , Stocks

Referenced Stocks: AAPL , AMZN , GOOG , MSFT , RIMM

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