iPad mini unveiling coming soon? Report says Oct. 17

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The last big piece of Apple’s 2012 holiday strategy may be introduced very soon. On Monday, Fortune reported that Apple is planning to send out invitations to an iPad mini-focused event next Wednesday, Oct. 10. Apple typically sends invitations to its events a week in advance, which means the unveiling of Apple’s first foray into smaller tablets could come Oct. 17.

Fortune reports that the source for this information is a “major Apple investor.” The timing sounds about right: Apple prefers Wednesdays for events. And a mid-October announcement — and the ensuing press coverage — would naturally set the stage for holiday sales.

Apple hasn’t confirmed the existence of a smaller iPad product, of course, but pictures of components said to belong to a 7.85-inch iPad have been leaking out for a few months.

The company held an event in mid-September to announced the iPhone 5, more details on iOS 6, and a slew of new iPods. Apple did not include a new iPad in that presentation. It’s possible Apple didn’t want the smaller iPad to get lost in the shuffle of announcements and prefers to hold a separate event to emphasize the device’s importance. This holiday, competition is going to be fierce for shoppers looking to pick up a 7-ish inch tablet, with Google, Amazon and Microsoft competing for their attention and dollars in the next few months.

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