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iPad mini coming early 2012?

The 'mini' doesn't refer to the size, but the price: Apple could be launching a budget tablet next year, according to an analyst.

If you thought Amazon's Kindle Fire was about to own the budget end of the tablet market, you might want to take a look at this.

Apple is reportedly working on a cheaper model of iPad, according to an analyst. It's just a rumour at the moment, but does make some quite interesting reading nonetheless.

The man behind this one is named Brian White, and he's an analyst at Ticonderoga Securities. In a note to investors, he recounted numerous meetings with technology supply chain companies at a Chinese trade show, reports BGR.

"Our research is pointing to the unveiling of a lower priced iPad in the first few months of 2012 that is aimed at expanding the company's market potential by tapping into a more price sensitive consumer segment," he said, without pausing for breath, or a comma.

He named the device as the 'iPad mini,' though those inverted commas suggest that name's far from gospel, especially considering the 'mini' will refer to the price, and that the tablet is likely to be the same size as the regular iPad 2.

White went on to say it would be a direct competitor to the Kindle Fire, and even speculated on a price. "We believe this lower priced iPad could be priced in the mid-to-high-$200 range," he said, which would work out to about £158 -- £189.

And he said a beefed up iPad 3 would follow. "We expect this will be followed by a much more powerful, feature rich standard-priced iPad 3 in 2Q12 [sic]."

This should be taken with a pinch of salt though, especially remembering all the talk of the iPhone 4S being a budget version of the iPhone 4, not to mention those iPhone 5 rumours that were flying about around 4 October.

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