Apple to webcast 'iPad Mini' event today

10 a.m. PT event viewable only on OS X, iOS and Apple TV hardware

Apple will webcast its event today, where most expect the company to unveil a smaller iPad.

The webcast, which Apple announced on its website, will begin at 10 a.m. PT. (1 p.m. ET).

9to5Mac.com first reported the online availability of today's launch.

Although the event can be viewed via QuickTime -- Apple's media software -- which runs on OS X, iOS and Windows, the notice said people will need a Mac, iOS device or Apple TV to see the show.

"Live streaming video requires Safari 4 or later on Mac OS X v10.6 or later; Safari on iOS 4.2 or later," said Apple. "Streaming via Apple TV requires second- or third-generation Apple TV with software 5.0.2 or later."

As is its practice, Apple has said nothing specific about the event, other than to hint that it will unveil a so-called "iPad Mini," a 7.85-in. tablet that may cost as little as $249.

An iPad Mini has been long-rumored -- talk of a smaller tablet has circulated almost since the 2010 launch of the 9.7-in. model -- with the most recent rumors tagging a Nov. 2 on-sale date.

That speculation fits the timelines of both the March debut of the new iPad and September's launch of the iPhone 5. If Apple hews to the same schedule of product introduction followed by pre-sales, then by a sales kickoff, it will begin taking pre-orders for the Mini today or no later than Thursday, then deliver those orders and begin selling the tablet at retail on Nov. 2.

The webcast is unusual for Apple, which rarely publicly broadcasts its product launches. The last time it did so for an invitation-only event was two years ago, when former CEO Steve Jobs revealed a revamped, and lower-priced, MacBook Air.

Typically, Apple only webcasts the keynotes of its annual developers conference, WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference), which are held in June.

Webcasting today's event may be Apple's response to other launches this week, including Microsoft's Thursday debut of its Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems, its own Surface RT tablet, and hardware from its OEM (original equipment manufacturer) partners.

Microsoft has said it will webcast the keynote that kicks off Thursday's activities.

Apple invitation
For the first time since October 2010, Apple is broadcasting an invitation-only product launch event. (Image: Apple.)

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@ix.netcom.com.

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