Apple is close to announcing a 7- or 8-inch version of its iPad tablet, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The first three models of the iPad feature a 9.7-inch display (gadget displays are always measured on the diagonal, in imperial).
The Journal says that following tests in February, Apple is now gearing up for mass production of the mini iPad.
Apple tested different sizes and shapes of iPad with component suppliers and contract assemblers this year; the final version of the new tablet is said to have a display that is 8-inches or smaller.
Separate reports have held that the next iPhone, expected later this year, will have a 4-inch display (current models have a 3.5-inch screen).
Unlike the smartphone market - where Google Android-based phones have a clear lead - Apple still dominates in tablets.
Worldwide, it is given 62% market share (and 77% in NZ), with an installed base of around 126 million iPads.
However, Amazon's 7-inch Kindle Fire tablet has recently gained a degree of traction.
The ful colour, touchscreen Fire is runs on Android software, and bares little relation to the simple e-book readers in the Kindle series.
Amazon sells the Fire for $US199, taking a razors-and-blades approach that sees it (in theory) recouping money on movie, music and ebook download services tied to the tablet (the fact that Amazon's movie and music download service is not available for NZ makes the Fire a non-starter here).
At its I/O developer conference last week, Google unveiled a house-brand mini tablet, the Nexus 7. Like the Fire, the Nexus 7will be low-cost, with a heavy content focus (which again makes it a non-starter for NZ, as the music and movie elements of Google's Play download service are not available here).
Last month, Microsoft previewed a tablet called the Surface, due later this year. The Surface has a 10.6-inch widescreen, and comes in two versions, one running Windows RT, the other Windows 8.
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