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Wall Street Journal Reignites Rumors of Smaller, 7-inch iPad Mini Coming this Fall

It’s that pesky 7-inch iPad again—the device that refuses to reveal itself in any meaningful way, but also wants to retain its position in the rumor mill… The mysterious mini-tablet from Apple should have no trouble popping up in conversations for some time to come, now that the Wall Street Journal has issued a report stating that parts suppliers are gearing up for mass production.

The form factor for the alleged tablet remains the same: A screen of roughly 8 inches or less, with all other internal components completely unknown. And though Steve Jobs might have disagreed—there’s no question that the tablet market has made a place for such a mid-sized device. The Kindle Fire and Nexus 7 both boast 7-inch screens and sell for $199, so it seems reasonable that a mini-iPad thrown in the mix might allow Apple to broaden its presence in the ever-expanding world of tablets. Whether or not they care to do so, that’s a whole different question that we really can’t begin to guess…

Not that it matters much, but the Wall Street Journal is taking its tips from a source who says that Apple is partnering with companies like LG Display and AU Optronics for the development of the 7-inch iPad. It is suspected that Apple could be readying to unveil the device alongside the new iPhone (also alleged) sometime later this year.

Everyone knows the iPad has a stranglehold over the tablet market in general (62% market share in 2011), but does Apple need to broaden its offerings in this manner? To me, this sounds like the kind of competitor-chasing that they usually avoid, but the Wall Street Journal disagrees… What do you think?

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