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Since the announcement of Google’s Nexus 7 tablet, the speculation regarding Apple’s purported smaller iPad has been incessant, and to add to the increasing tally of rumors and reports, The Wall Street Journal believes the fruit company has prepared component suppliers for large quantities of specific parts in preparation for the device.

The report cites anonymous sources – a trend we’re familiar with when dealing with top-secret products – and talks of how Apple’s Asian component suppliers are being briefed before a large-scale production push of the iPad, said by many to feature a 7.85 inch display.

With the current iPad packing a large, 9.7 inch screen, the new, smaller tab would lose quite a significant amount of real estate when compared with its larger, older brother. According to the WSJ report, LG Display Co. and AU Optronics Co. will be responsible for producing the screen of the smaller iPad.

With regards to a release bracket, movement within the supply chain seems to indicate the release date "appears near," although that doesn’t really tell us much, and the vagueness of these ongoing reports will do little to quell the large portion of skeptics whom don’t believe such a device will be released by Apple.

The murmurs have been going on for quite a few months, although it seems somewhat convenient that the mill has gone into apparent overdrive since the announcement of the Nexus 7, which looks the likeliest non-Apple tablet to really make an impression within the market.

Other reports have suggested Apple may announce the new iPad iteration in October, which is interesting, given it’s the same month we expect to see the next-generation iPhone. It poses a series of questions, such as; will Apple release them both at the same time, or weeks apart? And if the plan is to drop them both almost simultaneously, won’t one product end up outshining the other?

The smaller iPad is expected to utilize Sharp’s IGZO display, with a comparatively lower price of between $249 and $299. If it does turn out to be true, then it will significantly dampen the momentum behind the quad-core Nexus 7, which is expected to retail at a starting price of $199.

We look forward to uncovering some concrete evidence.

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