We’ve been hearing a lot about a potential iPad Mini coming in early 2012 and even an order placed by Apple for some panels brought us to the conclusion that a smaller iPad is in the making. Now, a component of the tablet popped up and it fits the speculations…

Said component is a new and smaller dock connector, that’s shown in the image above. A reliable source in Asia is quoted by Japanese site Macotakara, that has the scoop on this information. The same person said that the new iPad keeps the same size as the iPad 2, but it may (or may not) come with a Retina Display with high resolution.

Other sources say that the third gen iPad is on an unusual rush schedule, since the Chinese New Year takes place on January 23 and the national holidays from January 22 to 28, so the workers will get a lot of free time to make up for. The factories are bound to starting producing the next iPad at the end of January ,if the leaked info is right.

The smaller dock connector features the same 30 pin arrangement and electricity specifications. What do you make of it?