When Will the iPad Mini Debut?

The first predicted date for receiving invites to an iPad Mini release event came and went this week, leaving everyone to wonder just when Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) planned to launch its much-rumored smaller tablet. According to a new report in AllThingsD, company insiders have hinted that an event has actually been scheduled for October 23, two days before Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) is set to launch the Surface.

The iPad Mini is predicted to sport a 7.85-inch display with a lower pixel density than the high-resolution Retina display on the third-generation iPad. It is also expected to be thinner and feature the new Lightning dock connector. It is also likely to be priced in a range that lets it be competitive with Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Nexus 7 and Amazon’s (NASDAQ:AMZN) Kindle Fire.

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While there is no certainty on the location of the event, the report said it was likely to be held at Apple’s Town Hall Auditorium on the company’s headquarters, where the iPhone 4S, the MacBook Air, and OS X Lion were unveiled. Apple also holds some release events at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, but the report explained that the company was going with a smaller venue because it had already held its “big fall event” with the release of the iPhone 5 and the new iPods.

“The company pulled out all the stops for that one, holding it at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and recruiting Foo Fighters to close the show,” the report said. “It’s hard to imagine it mounting a second production of that caliber in such a short time. More likely that iPad Mini’s debut will be an intimate affair held closer to home.”

Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal said that Apple accessory makers had begun preparing for the launch of the new device, with China’s e-commerce site Alibaba.com offering several postings of “iPad Mini” cases in various colors and materials. The site was also selling iPhone 5 cases before the smartphone was announced.

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