Apple has started production of the iPad mini, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, a new device that will feature a smaller, lower-resolution screen than the company's genre-defining tablet computer.
Apple is expected to announce a launch event for the device next week, getting the iPad mini into stores for the crucial Christmas holiday period.
The device is expected to provide stiff competition to rivals like Google's Nexus 7 and the Amazon Kindle Fire which have undercut sales of the regular iPad by offering a smaller tablet at a much lower price.
The screen on the current iPad measures 9.7 inches diagonally while the new gadget will have a 7.85 inch display. The iPad currently sells for a starting price of $499, compared to $199 for the Google Nexus 7.
Market-research firm IHS iSuppli forecast that global tablet sales will surge 85 percent this year to 126.6 million units. The iPad held roughly 60 percent of the global tablet market last year.
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