Fortune. Citing an unnamed source (who has his own unnamed sources), Fortune says the invitations will reach inboxes of Apple-picked press on October 10.
If Apple follows its usual invite-event-availability model, the iPad Mini will be unveiled on or about Wednesday, October 17. It is possible the device will reach stores as soon as late October, but Fortune is putting its money on a probable Friday, November 2 debut. This prediction more or less falls in line with what was expected in terms of the iPad Mini's market debut.
Apple hasn't provided a single bit of data about the iPad Mini (of which even the name itself is unofficial), but plenty has been leaked over the last six months so that we have a general idea of what to expect.
[ You don't really know the pluses and minuses of a device until you get it in your hands. Read iPhone 5: My First Week. ]
Images of what purported to be the iPad Mini surfaced last month, and looked like they could be the real deal. The photos show a smaller tablet with a thicker profile tipped off by the beefy edges of the device. The photos don't confirm anything about the size, but the display is expected to measure 7.85 inches. The full-sized iPad has a 9.7-inch display.
Last month's leaked images also show what are plainly two cameras, one on the front (FaceTime) and one on the back (iSight). The iPad Mini appears to have a smaller connection port on the bottom, which is probably the same Lightning port found on the iPhone 5. The port is surrounded by speakers along the bottom edge of the iPad Mini, just as the Lightning port is on the iPhone 5.
Beyond these, details of the iPad Mini are sparse. Some of the biggest unanswered questions pertain to the quality of the display (Retina or not), the processor (A5 or A6), how much storage will it have (16 GB, 32 GB, or 64 GB), and so on. Will it include Wi-Fi and cellular, or just Wi-Fi for accessing the Internet?
Whatever the smaller Apple tablet is called and whatever specs it ships with, it will go head-to-head with the Amazon Kindle Fire and the Google Nexus 7. Both of these devices are available for $200 or less. If Apple brings a competitive alternative to market at an attractive price point, it could bury these and other inexpensive Android tablet options. Apple's iPad already owns more than two-thirds of the total tablet market, despite the best efforts of Google, Samsung, Motorola, ASUS, and many others.
Pricing for the iPad Mini is believed to fall in the $249 to $349 range. The new larger iPad starts at $499.
Latest leaked footage of the iPad Mini: