Update at 1:52 p.m. ET. Introducing iPad Mini:
Philip W. Schiller, the senior vice president of worldwide marketing at Apple, announced a new, smaller and cheaper version of its popular tablet, just minutes ago in San Jose, Calif.
"So, what can you do with an iPad mini that can't do with an iPad?" Schiller asked. "You can hold it in one hand."
The iPad mini is as thin as a pencil, weighs 0.68 pounds and has a 7.9 inch screen, Schiller said. The iPad has a 9.7 inch screen.
Before introducing the new product, Chief Executive Tim Cook said that Apple had already sold 100 million iPads. Taking a swipe at competitors, he said those numbers have garnered attention.
You can tell, he said, by the number of tablets that keep shipping every day. The Apple iPad Mini will compete directly with Amazon's Kindle and Google's Nexus 7.
In fact, in rare Apple form, Schiller showed a side-by-side comparison of the iPad mini and an tablet running Google's Android software.
Update at 2:08 The Price:
As always, Apple leaves the damage for last: The 16 GB iPad mini will start at $329. As a comparison, the iPad starts at $499.
For the record, Apple also announced upgrades to the regular iPad, as well as their line of iMacs. They also introduced a 13 inch Macbook Pro with a retina display.
Our Original Post Continues:
Apple is set for a big product announcement this morning in San Jose, Calif. While nothing is for sure, the rumbling across the press is that the technology giant will announce a smaller, cheaper version of its very popular tablet.
The "iPad Mini," reports The Washington Post, "is rumored to have a 7.85 inch screen and run on Apple's A5 chip, with a very thin and light design."
This is a big deal for the company, The Wall Street Journal reports. It says:
"The offering stands to be the first new class of hardware Apple has introduced since the iPad went on sale in 2010. People familiar with the matter say the smaller tablet, whose name is unknown, will have a screen around 7.85 inches and look similar to the existing iPad. Apple is also expected to announce updates to other product lines, including computers, at an event in San Jose, Calif.
"Such a device would compete squarely with devices like Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle Fire and Google Inc.'s Nexus 7, already on the market. These and other roughly seven-inch devices from Samsung Electronics Co. and others will account for about a fifth of the tablet market this year, according to Piper Jaffray."
Reuters reports that if this rumor comes to fruition, it will be the first new product to be added under the leadership of Tim Cook, who took over from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
"Apple sensed early that they had a real winner with the iPad and that has proven to be correct," Lars Albright, co-founder of mobile advertising startup SessionM and a former Apple ad executive, told Reuters. "They have a large market share, and to protect that market share they have got to be innovative."
In a rare move, Apple will live stream the announcement on its website starting at 1 p.m. ET. It's been our experience that the tech website The Verge is among the best at live blogging these events.
We will update this post once the announcement is made.