We’ve been hearing lots of reports that the folks from Cupertino are planning an iPad Mini. From Bloomberg and the New York Times, to our sister site SlashGear. Apparently Apple will be releasing a cheaper, smaller 7-inch iPad Mini later this year to better compete with Android. Could an iPad Mini crash the Nexus 7 party that’s been going on all month? Doubtful — but lets talk about it anyways.

To be completely fair the iPad has dominated tablet sales for far too long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a die hard Android fan and always will be. Facing the facts here the iPad has a strong lead — or did. When Google and ASUS dropped the Nexus 7 things changed. They unleashed a super powerful tablet with everything you’d want and need, great build quality, and the absolute latest Android 4.1 Jelly Bean all for $199. What a powerhouse! Apple is probably scared, and they should be.

The 7-inch form factor is a real winner here. We’ve seen that with the Kindle Fire, and even more so with the Nexus 7. Samsung’s done a decent job, but the Nexus 7 is the new king. The folks from Bloomberg seem pretty intent on saying the iPad Mini is a direct attack on the Nexus 7, as well as Android tablets as a whole. What do you guys think? We know Steve Jobs doesn’t like the smaller iPad idea.

What we know
There are conflicting reports but here’s the main bit. Original reports suggested a 7.85-inch display with 1024×768 resolution. Now rumors suggest the iPad Mini will be 7-8″ in size, a retina-like display, probably be powered the the iPad 2’s dual-core A5 processor, 1GB of RAM, and be cheap. Price is anyone’s guess but I can’t truly see Apple matching that $199 price point — but they’ll need to if they want to compete in the smaller 7-inch market. If Apple releases a 7-inch iPad Mini with those specs and 8GB of storage for $249 would that kill the Nexus 7’s momentum? They’d then probably also offer a 16GB version for $299. We know it won’t have micro-SD support. Will they offer a front or rear camera? Will it have 3G/4G connectivity? Will the screen really be “retina” quality? Those are all things that go first when making a budget device. The Nexus 7 found the perfect blend and Apple will need to do the same.

Recent leaks suggest both a rear and front facing camera, and possibly 3G/4G connectivity. These are both signs that an iPad mini will in fact not hit the price point Google has. If this indeed is the case we could be seeing a $299 Mini, or higher. Obviously a smaller iPad could effect the sales of the Nexus 7 and Android tablets in general, but it’s just one more option. Apple has their App Store and thousands of tablet apps, but we don’t know if they’ll all be compatible with the smaller screen. This will even the “tablet apps” playing field. They have iTunes, we have Google Music. Both offer Netflix and movies too. The competition really is getting tight here — see the trend? With the Nexus 7 still being cheaper, rocking a quad-core processor, and being extremely hackable I’m not too worried. Oh and it runs Android!!

Google obviously has a winner on their hands with the Nexus 7 (see our review) and this round it appears Android is in the lead, with Apple playing catch up. So in the end will an iPad Mini crash the Nexus 7 party? Not really. Will it add to competition and give users another option. You betcha!

What do you guys think? Does an iPad Mini have some serious potential or are they just chasing the success of Amazon, Google, and ASUS?