With a little more than 24 hours until Apple unveils the next-generation iPhone, a veil of uncertainty still exists over whether the company will also use the event to reveal a 7-inch iPad mini to complement its full-sized tablet.
There's been a great deal of speculation and debate surrounding the iPad mini. According to Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, Apple needs a 7-inch tablet. Without one the Cupertino-based giant face the prospect of losing market share and profit dollars.
"The Google Nexus 7 will sell well," writes Moorhead, "which is good for Google, Android, Asus and Nvidia, but bad for Apple, unless they act before the holidays".
ZDNet's James Kendrick believes that Apple could rock the world with an iPad Mini, which he dubbed the iBook.
It has been reported that even the late Steve Jobs was "receptive" to the idea of a 7-inch iPad.
Plenty of other tech pundits -- even some with a good track record -- say that the iPad mini is coming and that it could be Tim Cook's "one more thing..." moment at the September 12 event.
Personally, I'm just not sure.
The problem for Apple is coming up with a device at a compelling price point that will compete with the slew of 7-inch tablets now flooding into the market from the likes of Google and Amazon, but which doesn't cannibalize sales of the full-sized iPad.
While I have no doubt that an iPad mini, at the right price, could be Apple's "thermonuclear device" and seriously hurt Android, with the iPad selling as well as it is, it's hard to see Apple doing anything that could jeopardize sales, especially with the Christmas spending extravaganza on the horizon.
Then there's the complete absence of iPad mini-related hardware leaks. Over the past few weeks we've been treated to an almost endless stream of alleged iPhone 5 parts, ranging from the redesigned metal chassis to the shrunken dock connector, to the larger, more scratch-resistant front lens. And, if the video is to be believed, an entire iPhone 5 has been smuggled out of the factory in Jincheng, China.
Compare this to the iPad mini hardware leaks, which by my count have totaled zero. If there's an iPad mini set to be launched tomorrow, why haven't we seen any component leaks? Maybe Apple's veil of secrecy only extends far enough to keep one product under wraps and Apple chose the iPad mini, but somehow I just don't buy that.
Another reason why I don't think we're going to see an iPad mini announcement tomorrow is because the iPhone is Apple's flagship product, and alongside that iOS is going to be revealed. That's already a crowded schedule for the event without adding a new major product into the mix. Also, while I have no doubt that there are people out there with a budget to be able to go out and buy both a new iPhone and an iPad mini, for the majority on who are of more modest means, the decision is going to be an either-or as people choose one product over the other.
That either-or decision would likely put a severe dent in iPhone sales, something that Apple is probably keen to avoid.
So, my prediction, gut feeling, or guess (*delete as appropriate) is that if there is an iPad mini in the pipeline, it's not going to be announced tomorrow. There will be enough for Apple fans to spend their money on as it is.
Image source: Nickolay Lamm/InventHelp.