The iPad Mini is one of those perennial rumors that never seems to go anywhere. Ever since the launch of the original iPad in 2010 people have been speculating that Apple would launch a second, smaller iPad, with a display somewhere around seven inches. Steve Jobs vehemently denied that a 7-inch iPad was workable, and criticized Apple's competitors for making tablets in that size.
In the months since Jobs' death, however, rumors of an iPad Mini have been resurfacing with more frequency. In December we reported on rumors that Apple was purchasing 7.85-inch displays from a variety of manufacturers, including LG. Last month there were reports that Apple had an iPad Mini design in the testing phase. Two weeks ago there was another report that Apple was sending samples of a 7.85-inch display to various manufacturers. Most recently, there were reports that Apple was distancing itself from Samsung by getting the displays for the iPad Mini from AU Optronics.
Now, however, an executive from Samsung has contradicted that last report. Despite Apple's ongoing patent war with Samsung over several of the latter's smartphone and tablet designs, Samsung remains a major supplier of certain components for Apple's devices. Specifically, Samsung is the sole supplier of retina display panels for the new iPad. The executive, who wished to remain anonymous, bragged to the Korea Times about Samsung's position in Apple's supply chain. He said that Apple's contract with Samsung was approaching $11 billion, and that "Apple's top management still believes Samsung is the only parts maker in the world ideally-positioned to meat all of the critical conditions."
In the midst of talking about how much Apple depends on Samsung, he let slip a little detail that may confirm the rumors about the iPad Mini. In addition to all the components Apple currently gets from Samsung, he said that Samsung would be supplying LCD displays for a new, smaller iPad. He apparently did not go into any further detail about the characteristics of such a device, however.
Assuming this report is genuine, this is the best confirmation yet of an iPad Mini. Even so, the iPad Mini has looked like a sure thing in the past, and never materialized. That being so, a wait-and-see approach is still probably best.
In the meantime, there's also Steve Jobs' famous proclamation that 10 inches was the lower limit for a tablet, because anything smaller would sacrifice quality of experience. Jobs made the statement during an Apple earnings call in 2010. A YouTube video with Jobs' thoughts on the matter can be seen below. Check it out, then let us know what you think about these latest rumors in the comments.