Rumors and reports of a smaller, more portable iPad have been in the air since 2010, but their frequency has increased significantly this year thanks to the success of smaller, cheaper tablets like the Amazon Kindle Fire and Google Nexus 7.

A new report from Digitimes – a news daily covering the supply side of the electronics industry – cites “sources from the upstream supply chain” who claim that production of iPad Mini is seeing a great increase, with monthly units reaching 4 million in September. Monthly production for earlier months was “at around several hundreds of thousand.”

This falls in line with previous rumors of Apple hosting a media event on September 12th – an event whose precise date was confirmed by multiple, popular blogs and online magazines. Apple is expected to announce not just the new iPhone there, but also the iPad Mini. Retail launch would follow the event by 2-4 weeks.

The blogosphere has no confirmed idea of the iPad Mini’s internal hardware, but overall it is expected to have 1024 x 768, 7.85” display, an iPod touch-like thin body, be less than half of the weight of the current iPad.

If Apple prices it at $249, or even $299, it will be a big boost for the company as it will bring in millions of new, first-time tablet owners who couldn’t afford its elder brother. It will be the perfect stepping stone for young teenagers who would have otherwise had their parents buy them an iPod touch.

Once Apple does launch the iPad Mini, it will truly kick off the “small tablet wars” where, for once, Apple isn’t the initiator or leader; an iPad Mini would be more of a reaction than anything else.

But then again, who knows? The iPad Mini may not even exist. Unlike with the iPad 2, new iPad, and even the new iPhone, there have been no leaked components. Just a lot of speculation and reports of “increased production.”

I don’t know about you, but between a laptop and a smartphone, I see no real space for a tablet in my daily computing, so I won’t be jumping onto the tablet bandwagon – whether its $199 Nexus 7 or a $499 new iPad – just yet.

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