iPad Mini rumoured to be released before Christmas 2012

The Right Click

There's been seemingly endless speculation of "will they or won't they?" when it comes to Apple releasing an iPad Mini. To add more fuel to that fire, Bloomberg is reporting that there are "plans to debut a smaller, cheaper iPad by year-end."

Quoting two sources as "people with knowledge of the plans," Bloomberg says the iPad Mini (which hasn't been confirmed as its name) would have a screen about 7 to 8 inches, and would potentially be announced in October.

[ Related: Mozilla unveils prototype iPad browser to challenge Safari ]

According to TechSpot, the rumours suggest it will have a 1024 by 768 resolution, despite what was reported back in May. It seems those hoping for retina display on the smaller model would be out of luck. Part of the reason for this could be so Apple can price the tablet around the $200 USD mark, although BGR reports that it will likely be priced closer between $249-$299.

This rumour comes hot on the heels of Google unveiling the Nexus 7 at its annual I/O conference, which was also long speculated about. While the Nexus 7 has been reviewed quite favourably by numerous tech sites, a new, smaller-form factor iPad could throw a wrench into Google's plans to claw back part of the tablet market.

"It would be the competitor's worst nightmare," said analyst Shaw Wu to Bloomberg. "The ball is in Apple's court."

According to a recent report, about 62 per cent of Canadians with tablet computers owned iPads, while nearly 20 per cent owned BlackBerry Playbooks.

[ More from The Right Click: 'Tech It Up' winners shine spotlight on great gadgets ]

While the 7-inch tablet battle in the U.S. is relatively tame, in Canada, it's a much different story. The Kindle Fire and the new Nexus 7 are both going to be the big rivals for the iPad Mini (whenever it debuts), but with one-fifth of the market in Canada using the 7-inch BlackBerry Playbook, it might be more difficult to users to switch from one 7-inch tablet to another. Other 7-inch tablets in Canada, like the Thrive 7, Kobo Vox and the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.0 are also readily available, further muddying the iPad Mini's pool of potential customers.

Then again, trying to compete against other 7-inch tablets could quickly become a moot point, as there are still plenty of people out there who don't own tablets yet (perhaps waiting for the 7-inch iPad). The latest numbers on tablet shipments projects that tablets will be overtaking notebook sales by 2016, suggesting that there are plenty more people who haven't bought tablets yet and are still looking for just the right one.