iPad Mini Mock Up TB

Call it the rumor that will never die, but at least one analyst still believes the iPad Mini is a reality and launching later this year.

Speaking with ComputerWorld, Ezra Gottheil, analyst with Technology Business Research, had a lot of familiar predictions about the iPad 3 having a retina display, but he isn't quite as sold on the idea of a quad-core processor coming along for the ride as others are due to the possible power requirements.  He also speculated that the iPad 2 will be hanging around at a reduced price, just as Apple has done of late with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S.

Where he left the safety of popular rumors was in his prediction that the a 7-inch iPad, commonly referred to as the iPad Mini, was still in the cards.  He doesn't feel that it will release at the same time as the iPad 3, but would be later in the year.  We have seen rumors of a diminutive iPad pop up time and time again, but the late Steve Jobs made it fairly clear that he was not a fan of the 7-inch form factor.  This is, however, the second time we've heard of someone predicting a late 2012 release date, so who knows, but it's hard to believe that Apple would go against such strong statements from Jobs.

And from left field, Gottheil is also predicting a case for the iPad 3 with a Bluetooth keyboard.  While certainly the first we've heard of such a prediction, it would certainly make sense seeing how popular that market has become from third-party vendors.

It seems that everyone is focusing on early March for an iPad 3 announcement, so, in theory, we're just weeks away from finding out who's done the best job with their predictions.

[via ComputerWorld]