Reports are claiming that Apple is set to launch its iPad mini on Tuesday 23 October, days before Microsoft's launch of Windows 8 and its Surface tablet.

The company had been expected to launch the new model sooner, but it seems that production delays forced Apple to postpone the launch.

However, AllThingsD claims that production delays are not the reason for the postponement and the event will be held on 23 October at Apple’s Town Hall Auditorium.

The iPad mini is expected to launch alongside a thinner iMac and a 13in Retina Display MacBook Pro.

Claims that Apple would launch a mini iPad go back years, despite Apple's late CEO claiming that to use a smaller tablet people would need sandpaper to reduce the size of their fingers. However, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue argued there was a market for a 7-inch tablet and that Apple should have one in an email that was discussed in the Apple and Samsung trial.

There have been a number of leaked images of the iPad mini including an image of a supposed iPad Mini battery that has been obtained by MacRumors. According to MacRumours, the battery runs at 3.72 volts, offering 16.7 Whr of energy on 4490 mAh of charge, suggesting it will be a longer-lasting battery life when compared to tablets from competitors like Amazon and Google, according to Technology Tell.

One analyst is claiming to have already had a chance to hold an iPad mini. Topeka Capital analyst Brian White said: "We actually had the opportunity to play with a pilot iPad Mini used by one of the vendors. This 7.85-inch iPad Mini fit our hands like a glove and we were easily able to tuck the device in our sport coat, offering consumers a more mobile iPad experience for certain use cases," reports Reuters.

Can Apple make enough money from an iPad mini?

There is still some debate as to whether the 7in tablet market will be a profitable one for Apple. It is thought that if Apple sells the iPad mini at a price that is comparable with the competition (such as Amazon's Kindle Fire HD tablet and Google's Nexus 7 Google) it will struggle to maintain a high profit margin on the device. It has been said that its $199 Nexus 7 is being sold at cost with no profit margin.

Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu suggested that if Apple prices the smaller tablet between $299 to $349, it could maintain the current margins. If the tablet is priced below $299, Apple could still maintain a decent margin if it offers 8 GB of storage instead of the minimum 16 GB storage it has in the current iPad, Wu added, writes Reuters.

As for the market for the device. One report is suggesting that Textbooks will be key and that the launch event for the iPad mini will focus on education, as was the case with Apple's education event earlier this year where it launched iBooks Author. To make the iPad a real choice in the education marketplace, Apple needs an entry that competes with the bargain-basement tablets, notes TUAW.

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