Apple sends invites for October 23 event: iPad mini on deck?

Editors note – Tonight apple will be gatecreashing microsofts surfaces’ big unvieling, the rumours go that apple will be announcing a 7″ ipad (mini) to take the sting out of the microsoft launch and to tackle the competition from the nexus 7 and the kindle fire.

Microsoft just can’t have its own day, can it?

Apple, the arch-rival and market leader in the tablet space, has released invitations to the media to join the maker of shiny rectangles on October 23 — a week from today — for a special event.

Sister site CNET received the invitation this morning. “We’ve got a little more to show you,” the invite read. The event will be held at 10 a.m. PT in San Jose, California.

It goes without saying, Apple’s announcement may have been strategically timed to dampen Microsoft’s day, as the Redmond, WA.-based software giant enters the hardware foray with its own-branded tablet debut.

What’s on the cards? By all accounts, it appears the Cupertino, CA.-based technology giant will unveil at least one smaller, daintier product: the iPad mini. Thought to be 7-inches opposed to its larger 9.7-inch larger counterpart, the device will compete with other major players in the petite tablet space, notably Amazon’s Kindle Fire and Google’s Nexus 7. In parallel, the smaller tablet will take on Google’s own mobile operating system, Android, which despite being installed on a wider variety of devices, it still only manages to score a slice of the overall mobile tablet platform market share.

Along with the supposed smaller tablet, it’s likely that a range of other ‘mini’ devices will be paraded in front the world’s media — that is if the leaks and rumors are anything to go by. Apple is rumored to include a smaller 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display, along with a new range of Mac mini desktop computers as part of its media event line-up.

But as with previous events under the Tim Cook reign, much of what Apple attempts to keep secret has exploded onto the Web.

Earlier this week, the alleged iPad mini’s pricings were leaked. Despite earlier reports claiming the highly anticipated tablet will arrive without cellular connectivity, a leaked screenshot suggested the iPad mini will arrive in two major versions: one with Wi-Fi and another with Wi-Fi + Cellular.

Exactly how the business and enterprise market will react to the smaller iPad is anybody’s guess. Having said that, previous analysis suggests all eyes will be on not the iPad mini as such but its main rival in the business tablet space: the Microsoft Surface, which Microsoft priced the lowest-spec tablet below the iPad as it stands now. Pricing will be key. If Apple prices the iPad mini at the same or below the base model of the Surface, we could have a real-life tablet war on our hands.

CNET will be there live with all the live coverage and the breaking news, while ZDNet will have instant analysis as it happens and to follow.

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