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iPad mini shown off on 17 October, sources hint

Invites for the iPad mini event are reportedly being sent out on 10 October, suggesting a launch a week later.

Apple's rumoured smaller iPad could be getting an airing in just over a fortnight, with the mystery tablet potentially going on sale as soon as late October, fresh reports suggest.

Fortune says it's spoken to a major Apple investor, who, while asking to remain anonymous, believes from 'multiple sources' than invites to an iPad mini launch event will be sent out on 10 October -- that's next Wednesday.

Apple tends to send out invites to events mere days before the bash itself (don't you hate those short-notice shindigs?), so if that's true, we'd be looking at an unveiling the following week.

The iPhone 5 was flaunted on a Wednesday and went on sale the following Friday, as was the new iPad, so a lid-lifting ceremony on 17 October followed by a 26 October launch would make sense.

Needless to say, this is all guesswork, but a number of tips and hints from shadowy sources have pointed to October as the month we'll finally see Apple unwrapping a miniature iPad.

Nothing on this rumoured device is known for sure, but one thing I do know is that cheap, smaller tablets from major manufacturers are springing up everywhere. Google's got the quad-core Nexus 7, Amazon is launching the Kindle Fire HD, and US bookseller Barnes and Noble is poised to bring its Nook HD tablet to the UK too.

Apple isn't generally a company to follow industry trends, but those three tablets all cost about £160, and could easily persuade potential iPad buyers to go for the cheaper option. If Apple thinks it could lose ground to rival tablet-makers, that may persuade it to make a smaller, cheaper iPad.

Is the iPad mini real, or is it just fantasy? Tell me in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

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Update: That didn't happen after all, as Fortune was brave enough to point out. Carry on, nothing to see here.