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iPad mini will up Apple's sales to schools and gamers – analyst

The 7in iPad will arrive in autumn, will expand the tablet market while diminishing the competition

The iPad mini will increase Apple's tablet sales to schools, students and gamers, due to its added portability and lower price tag, an analyst has said.

Apple Insider reports that Barclays Equity Research analyst Ben A. Reitzes believes that Apple will be expanding its tablet line up this autumn, adding a 7.85in iPad to its product line.

"We do not feel that a smaller, lower priced tablet will dilute the quality of the iPad brand and iOS ecosystem either, despite prior comments by the company," said Reitzes in a note sent to investors on Tuesday.

Reitzes thinks that the iPad mini will help Apple bring its iPad to education, an area Apple is clearly targeting with its new interactive textbooks. The 7in iPad would help expand the tablet market, said Reitzes, allowing it to achieve up to 350 million sales in 2015.

The smaller iPad will also help Apple increase sales among gamers, predicts Reitzes. He thinks that mobile gaming has a bright future at Apple.

Retizes notes that the 7in iPad would affect the sales of the current, 9.7in iPad, causing a decrease in sales of the bigger model, but he believes that it would be beneficial to Apple overall by increasing the iPad's audience, and weakening competitors.

Rumours of a 7in iPad have been circulating for some time now. Today, it was reported that Apple will use thin-film touch technology for its 7.85in iPad.

Daring Fireball's John Gruber recently claimed that Apple is in the process of testing a prototype of the iPad mini.

Earlier in the year, reports surfaced claiming that Apple has chosen to use a slim bezel on the iPad in order to maximize the viewing area of the tablet.

Samsung Securities also expects Apple to launch a smaller iPad, possibly in the third quarter of 2012.

Rumours of a 7in iPad continue to be viewed with some skepticism, however, as the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs famously dismissed the idea in October 2010, saying: "The 10in screen size is the minimum size required to create great tablet apps. 7in tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone, and too small to compete with an iPad."

However, it is believed that Apple may have been convinced about the smaller form factor following the success of Amazon's Kindle Fire.

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