Call it the little rumor that could.
If you're someone who loves your iPad, but just hates how big it is, the following may excite you. Technology Buiness Research analyst Ezra Gottheil tells the Chicago Tribune that there will in fact be an iPad 3 mini this year.
"I believe that's always been in the plan," Gottheil said. "Actually, that's a good form factor for some users, and although they will also charge a premium above other similar-sized tablets, they want to protect that price flank."
The iPad mini would be a 7-inch tablet, a full 2.7 inches smaller than the iPad 2.
As we've previously pointed out, rumors of a smaller, 7-inch iPad are pretty much perennial. People have always speculated that Apple would release a tablet that would bridge the gap between the iPhone and the original iPad. Every time there's a rumor, it gets shot down pretty quickly. The last major iPad 3 mini rumor surfaced at the end of 2011.
And of course, there's that thing that Steve Jobs said about the iPad size being the minimum size for a tablet. He didn't want a tablet to feel like a giant smartphone.
Gottheil says that the iPad 3 mini would hit sometime later this year, well after the regular iPad 3 launch. The latest rumors have put the iPad 3 launch event occurring during the first week of March. Supposed leaked images of that device are already making the rounds.
If Apple began producing a 7-inch iPad, it would obviously become a direct competitor to Amazon's Kindle Fire, which is also 7 inches (although maybe not in price). The Kindle Fire has been a bestseller for Amazon since its launch last year - the most sold product during the holiday shopping season.
Although people are buying, a recent study suggests that Kindle Fire owners aren't quite as happy with their product as iPad owner. Only 54% reported being "very satisfied" with their device, a substantially lower satisfaction rate than iPad users (74%). Of course, we can't say how the screen size impacts these figures.
And what about Google, who's also been rumored to be getting back into the tablet game in a big way. Could we eventually have a three-headed 7-inch tablet monster?
Would you want an 7-inch iPad? Or do you agree with Jobs, that it would just feel like an oversized smartphone? Let us know in the comments.