Rumour: 7-inch iPad 2 launching soon

Rumours of a cut-down Apple iPad are ramping up as Taiwanese news outlet the Economic Daily News names a host of component makers pegged to partner Apple on the project.

The often-reliable Chinese language newspaper - which correctly predicted the first coming of the iPad when everyone else on the planet was carping on about a sub-$500 netbook from the Cupertino company - has been digging about in the skips behind a number of Chinese factories and reckons it knows who will be making which bit of the much-predicted iPad 2.

Apparently, Apple has taken on user comments about the current model of the popular proddable PC which bemoaned its user-unfriendly size and heft.

In an effort to assuage limp-wristed Apple fans, the company has apparently decided to cut the screen size down from 9.7 inches to a little over seven inches, which should make reading the latest Stieg Larsson novel in bed that much more comfortable.

The smaller display and other design tweaks will apparently help the next-gen iPad to lose around 200g in weight, slimming down from 1.5 to 1.1 pounds in old money. You'll still need voluminous pockets to cart one around with you but the shrinkage should help the gadget to get out and about a bit more.

EDN says that the new touch-panel display will no longer be made by He Xin but would now be made Yoa Da, a subsidiary of Da Hong.

The new sku will move assembly away from Hon Hai (which owns Foxconn) and will now be nailed together by either He Shuo or Ren Bao which is less likely as the company is better known for making toys (insert your own gag here).

General chatter on the Internet says that the mini iPad will have the same 1024x768 IPS screen resolution as the existing model, 512MB or RAM and be powered by an ARM Cortex A9 processor designed by the mobile-centric Brit chip shop. The jury is out on whether the CPU will have one or two cores but we'd be prepared to bet on the latter.

Suggestions that Apple could have the shrunken iPad in the shops by Christmas are implausible without being impossible. Basically if Steve Jobs hasn't shouted about it by the first couple of weeks in October it ain't gonna happen this side of the New Year.

Thanks to James Cullimore for the translation.