iPad Mini Coming this Year to Compete with Windows 8, Rumors Say

An iPad 1 and an iPad 2.

Apple launched its new iPad just six weeks ago, but that doesn't mean the world isn't itching for the next Apple tablet. Rumors of a 7-inch iPad (current versions have a 9.7-inch screen) have popped up again.

This time the speculation comes from a couple of places. The first is a Chinese site called Netease, which says that there will be six million units ready for launch in the third quarter of this year. It also says the tablet could sell for $249 to $299 - just about half the price of the current iPad.

Netease says that Apple is prepping the device to compete against Microsoft's  Windows 8, which is expected to hit the market around the holiday season.

Steve Jobs had been quite outspoken about smaller tablets; during one earnings call he even said that a 7-inch tablet would be "dead on arrival." On that same call he said, "While one could increase the resolution of the display to make up for some of the difference, it is meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size."

Still, there have been reports for a number of months that Apple does have smaller versions of the iPad in its Cupertino labs. The smaller screen size would make this rumored version of the iPad easier to hold in one hand and better for reading.

And industry analysts are keen on the idea as well. Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee, a financial analysis company, said that an iPad mini is "inevitable." Wu said the smaller iPad, which he believes to be 7.85-inches in screen size, would be "the competition's worst nightmare."

It doesn't appear the competition is going to have to worry just yet, since there still isn't much concrete evidence that Apple is actually working on an iPad mini.