Will Apple introduce an iPad Mini?

Will Apple introduce an iPad MiniI’m all but convinced this is going to happen. Rumor has it that Apple will unveil an iPad Mini in 2012. In essence it would be a smaller version of the current 9.7-inch model on the market, and clearly focused on primarily countering the Amazon Fire. This is not the first we’ve heard about smaller iPads.

Reportedly Jobs was never a fan of the idea (although I can’t confirm that’s true or not). However, these are the early days of tablets. Like desktop PCs, laptops, and smartphones before it, I expect manufacturers such as Apple, HTC, Samsung, and Amazon, to rapidly expand the range of offerings to meet a variety of price-points, consumer needs.

Not everyone wants such a large slate. You can’t throw it as easily into a bag or purse as you can a Kindle or 7-inch Galaxy Tab. Reading on the current iPad can be a bit tricky with its weight. It pretty much requires two hands (Shaq excluded).

Here’s the interesting part…

Aren’t tablets really just larger versions of smartphones?

In the next 24 months I expect these devices to converge like nobody’s business. Wasn’t this the dream of the original Palm, or even the Newton?

Under this new world of expanded tablet offerings, you’ll simply be able to pick your size of preference and the device will do it all. Or maybe we’ll see the Happy Meals of tech: supersize your purchase and get three tablets (and a Diet Coke), a 3.7-inch (on-the-go), 7-inch (for reading), and 10+ inches for reading Details and streaming Netflix.

iPad Mini: bank on it (except for the name).

Apple invented the category. Now it needs to ensure it can grow it, and maintain its huge leadership position.

I fondly recall my original iPod. A jog wheel! Look at what happened there. Soon enough you had mini, touch, classic… on and on. Meanwhile an industry was turned on its collective ear.