It’s almost 2012 and speculations about the next iPad have started gathering… We hear talk about a Retina Display, a better CPU and even an iPad Mini with 7 inch display pops up. Lately this seems to be the favourite theory for people in the know, when it comes to the Apple slate. Speculations claim that the production for the 7.85 inch iPad will start this Spring and the product may ship this summer.

The company is also expected to launch a high res 10 inch iPad 3 this Spring, so we may be dealing with two tablets here? Digitimes says that the 7 inch slate might come before Q4 2012 and that it’s meant to compete with the likes of the Amazon Kindle Fire and other original formats of tablets, like the many Galaxy Tabs out there. Barnes & Noble also has a decent rival out for the Kindle Fire, so the market is getting heated and so is competition. It’s hard to believe that Apple would consider lowering prices to the point of $199, in order to compete with the Amazon Kindle Fire, but who knows?

Also, one might remember that in the past Apple CEO Steve Jobs criticized the 7 inch form factor, saying that it doesn’t offer the full feature portable experience and it sacrifices too much. The original iPad took pride in its virtual keyboard, that would be rendered less useful on the 7 inch form factor. Amazon’s success with its tablet might make Apple jealous and maybe think about changing tablet formats, which they never do. However, till they start losing some serious market share, it’s hard to believe that the 9.7 inch diagonal will be let go. They have to figure out that solution to make them appealing again and a Retina Display could be the answer… at least for now.