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Apple Reportedly Planning to Launch Smaller iPad in Early 2011

In a brief note, DigiTimes reports that Apple appears to planning to launch a smaller version of the iPad as soon as the first quarter of next year, bringing a sub-$400 price tag to a device carrying a display of 5-7 inches.

Apple is reportedly scheduling a smaller 5- to 7-inch version of the iPad that is expected to launch as soon as the first quarter of 2011, according to Digitimes Research senior analyst Mingchi Kuo.

Kuo, citing talks with upstream component sources, said Apple's smaller-size iPad will be priced below US$400 and will target the highly-portable mobile device market and consumers that focus mainly on reading and do not have a high demand for text input.

Reports of a tablet of that general size have been floating around for some time now, with an analyst claiming in August 2009 that Apple had developed a prototype carrying a 6-inch screen. A subsequent report claimed that Apple might be the cause of a major shortage of 7-inch touchscreens in the supplier market. Finally, in late December, a report surfaced claiming that Apple would be introducing a 7-inch tablet the following month.

While many of these reports indicated that a 6- to 7-inch device could be coming as part of, if not as the entirety of, Apple's tablet launch, the iPad debuted with a larger 9.7-inch screen in line with most other reports. Today's report reveals, however, that rumors of a tablet between that of the iPhone/iPod touch and iPad sizes are not dead and that we may hear more in the future.

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