It now seems to be a forgone conclusion that Apple will announce a 7 inch version of its popular iPad over the next few days. As was reported in yesterday’s technology Digest, the invitations to the press et al are supposed to go out today. The next 24 to 36 hours should tell the story.

Back when Steve Jobs was leading Apple, he scoffed at the notion of a smaller iPad saying that the user would not be able to have the full iPad experience. In the time since that declaration, Google has launched its popular Nexus 7 and Samsung has continued to make hay off of its 7″ Galaxy Tab, perpetual litigation on behalf of Apple not withstanding. Then there is the Kindle Fire and the Nook from Barnes & Noble that have begun to move from being an e-reader and purchasing platform to a serious alternative to the competition. In other words, the little guys are eating Apple’s lunch and Cupertino only owns 52% of the tablet market nowadays.

Apple’s Ouija Board must have packed up leaving no communication with the great beyond because they appear to have taken notice of the tablet market as a whole. For once, they are a follower rather than a leader. While it is great that Apple has taken notice of what real people may want, the 7-inch iPad may signal another opportunity for Cupertino to throw its considerable weight around.

PC Magazine’s Mark Hatchman has an article and side-show on 6 Ways the iPad Mini Could Beat the iPad. While a couple of these “ways” seem to be somewhat frivolous, price and portability are serious talking points and the article is well worth a look.

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