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Chinese whisper of low-cost Kindle-confounding iPad

Smaller model too?

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Given that many a fanboy's assumption that Apple would announce a new-design iPhone earlier this month derived from claims made to market analysts by sources within Chinese component makers, you should probably treat the following with some scepticism.

For what it's worth, more of those oriental moles have told Brian White, an analyst with US stockbrokership Ticonderoga Securities, that Apple will announce an "iPad Mini" early next year.

You might think that means a 7in iPad, and it may well do so, but in fact the comments coming out of China actually refer to a mini-price iPad, a low-cost model intended, White reckons, to counter the likes of Amazon's $199 Kindle Fire, seen by many as the only tablet currently able to give the iPad a run for its money.

White told investors he thinks the 'cheap' iPad could be priced "in the mid-to-high $200 range.

Apple has traditionally steered clear of low-price products, preferring to trade sales volumes for the value a premium brand brings.

Still, it's not hard to envisage Apple launching a high-spec iPad 3 in February 2012 - a year on from the iPad 2 launch - while knocking down the price of the iPad 2 a little, just as it has with the iPhone 4 now the 4S is out. ®

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