Apple Planning to Release 'iPad Mini' in Q1 2012?

Apple is going to respond to Amazon's Kindle Fire with a low-end tablet, or iPad mini, in early 2012 according to a recent report from BGR.

Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga Securities, had a number of meetings with supply chain companies in the technology industry at a trade fair in China. He reports the overall atmosphere as being gloomy, with most firms suggesting there is weakening demand throughout the industry, with one exec commenting "the whole world is shrinking."

Following meetings with Apple's suppliers and based on Ticonderoga's research White has drawn the conclusion that the tech giant will introduce an 'iPad mini' in the first quarter of next year.

“Our research is pointing to the unveiling of a lower priced iPad in the first few months of 2012 that is aimed at expanding the company’s market potential by tapping into a more price sensitive consumer segment,” the analyst said.

Apple's strategy could reach entry-level users who are more restricted by price. The "mini" points to a lower price, ranging from $250 to $300, rather than necessarily to a smaller display.

The recently unveiled Kindle Fire achieved quarter of a million preorders in just a week, with the tablet set to hit the market next month. Amazon's tablet, which is priced at $199, is seen by many as the most likely to seriously dent Apple's supremacy. Alongside the price, far undercutting the iPad 2, the online retailers vast ecosystem makes it Apple's first serious contender.

A few months after Apple's lower end tablet debuts, White does predict we will see a much more powerful, feature-rich iPad 3 in the second quarter of 2012.